BY ATHENA FOSLER-BRAZIL
In protest of Donald Trump’s inauguration, women and men wearing pink hats and carrying signs with biting slogans marched through the streets of most major cities on Jan. 21, 2017, the largest march taking place in Washington D.C. with an estimated 470,000 people in attendance.
A year ago, I attended the corresponding march in London along with 100,000 other protesters, and the speakers and signs focused on hope and perseverance in the face of opposition, a mentality that carried into the rest of the year and inspired movements focusing on the rights of women and minorities.
“The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change,” states the official website of the women’s march movement.
On Jan. 20 of this year, I attended the march in San Francisco, and protesters were similarly empowered, yet the energy was different and the speakers focused less on coming together after a crushing election and more on taking action and beginning to fight harder for what they believe in.
The crowd seemed more angry than sad, but just as united as last year’s march, and it’s clear that while the energy has shifted, the fire is still lit in the hearts of thousands of protesters across the country.
This year’s marches also emphasized the importance of voting to help Democrat politicians gain more seats in Congress and continuing to be vocal about movements such as the #MeToo campaign and the #TimesUp campaign, both of which gained attention and raised awareness in 2017 and early 2018.
These protests came last year as a response to Trump’s openly sexist and racist comments, and the massive outcry following his election inspired many women to feel supported in coming forward regarding their experiences of sexism and harassment.
Carmel High School was represented at these marches.
“I think that the marches enabled many people to realize, or be reminded, that they are not alone in their disgust and anger, and when people unite, we truly can effect change,” CHS English teacher Whitney Grummon says.
The initial marches accompany a flood of stories detailing sexual harassment and discrimination in Hollywood and the worlds of journalism and politics, including some against Trump himself when many women came forward and accused him of forcibly kissing and groping them without consent. Trump denied all of these allegations, calling the women liars and frequently tweeting personal attacks against them.
For many, the marches served as a reminder that there are like-minded individuals out there who are willing to stand up against bigotry and sexism, and many described the marches as an almost comforting experience.
Senior Coral Barrett attended the San Francisco march both last year and this year, and she notes that while there was an aspect of fear in the midst of such political turmoil, the experiences were overall positive ones.
“I was surrounded by people who all had the same goals as I did, like a common goal for humanity,” Barrett reflects.
Taking action seems to be the most prominent sentiment with everyone understanding that it is no longer enough to simply feel injustice. It is necessary to make a change on a personal level in order to affect things domestically and internationally.
“A lot of people may go to the march, they may say something, but then they do nothing about it,” Barrett says.
Women and men across the country agree with her, and it is clear that since Trump’s inauguration last year, passionate and angry citizens have only become more determined to make change.