In a divided country, we marched as one, and it was beautiful.
On Saturday, Jan. 21, 750,000 people from all walks of life gathered in downtown Los Angeles to attend the city’s Women’s March. As expressed by the official Women’s March campaign, the purpose of the March on Washington was to “stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families–recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”
We stood together across the nation and the globe with 673 marches and an estimated 4,876,700 sister marchers.
As I stood bubbling with excitement and passion among the masses, I looked around in awe. I was amazed by not only the number of people around me, but also the diversity of the attendees. Babies wearing feminist onesies cooing in their mother’s arms, groups of veterans with a look of experience in their eyes, people of all ethnic backgrounds; all of us coming together as one. For the first time in months, I felt hope. Hope for my future as a woman, hope for my friends and family, and hope for our nation.
While waiting for the march to begin, I looked up and saw a large sign hanging from a window stating “Hear Us Roar” and roar we did! Messages such as “Women’s Rights=Human Rights Rights” or “Our Bodies, Our Minds, Our Choice” and “The Future is Female” filled me with strength. There were many others, each with their own empowering message, and with hundreds of thousands of voices behind them, they held a seemingly unstoppable power.
University of Redlands students were well represented at the Women’s March this past Saturday. With students traveling individually from the University as well as by a charter bus organized by the Campus Diversity and Inclusion, we united in great numbers.
“At the march I felt a great sense of energy from everyone who was participating and I just felt an overwhelming sense of happiness throughout my time there,” said Arash Hafiz, University of Redlands senior. “I think the biggest thing that I noticed was the amount of male supporters who were out with strong signs and messages promoting the overall sense of females being the future of the world. I thought it was increasingly powerful every time we ran into a group of men who joined together to spread the sense of safety for women and promote positive energy towards their work and future.”
Although the Women’s March was in response to the Inauguration of President Trump, the message conveyed was not centered around our now president and his administration, rather it focused on promoting a change in our society. It was a call to respect and support one another in our efforts, and to not just accept the love given to us, but to also share it. This march was about how we can become unified through the acceptance of one another, no matter the differences.
Within the first few minutes of my arrival, my girlfriends and I were offered free, pink, handknit “pussy” hats by a mother-daughter duo who shared them with march attendees throughout the morning. We wore them with pride. Later, just as I was reaching a peak of thirst, I came across a group of men handing out free bottled water, as they encouraged the marchers to stay hydrated. Shortly after, Indian women offered free bowls of soul-warming garbanzo curry from their booth, that helped sustain us throughout the rest of the march. These are just a few of the beautiful acts of kindness I was shown while marching for human rights.
The number of people was so great that the event was more of a slow walk than a march; imagine that, 750,000 empowered people filling downtown so much so that we could barely move, all there to show one another support, respect, and love. Marching to not only show we stand together, but that we stand strong.
After a long day of marching, we retreated to our charter bus, brimming with hope and empowerment. Leela Madhava Rau, Associate Dean of Campus Diversity and Inclusion, reminded us that this was just the beginning, the beginning of a movement, and to reach to her for any resources or funding necessary to continue this movement for positive change.
On Jan. 21, those who attended the Women’s March in Los Angeles and across the globe, made history, or rather, herstory.
[photos courtesy of the author, Talullah Plummer Blanco, as well as editor, Willow Higgins]