D.C. Women’s March Shapes, Inspires NDA Student

D.C. Women's March Shapes, Inspires NDA Student

Clare Ravizza , Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Last Saturday, I marched in the Women’s March on Washington in D.C. It was an experience that has shaped me, and one that I will never forget.

On that Thursday afternoon, my five female companions and I donned our pink hats, loaded up into a car, and began our journey. It was a long trip, but as we drove nearer and nearer to D.C., each rest stop was filled with more and more people wearing pink hats. They would holler at us, throw their fists in the air. Some remarked on how they wish they’d been able to procure a hat in time, at which time one of us would run out to the car to give them one of our spares.

In a Starbuck’s line in Ohio, we ran into a group of marchers from Eau Claire. At a rest stop in Pennsylvania, women ran over to take our pictures, to take a selfie with us. There was an indescribable feeling of unity as other marchers would honk their horns at us on the highway, “I Am Woman” blaring through the speakers.

That Friday, Inauguration Day, a day which I thought would be so dark, was suddenly full of light.

I felt strong. I felt hopeful. I didn’t feel hateful, I felt loving. I felt loved.

We, and a handful of other marchers, slept in every available crevice at a friend’s D.C. apartment. We played cards and spoke in voices quiet, full of anticipation, until Saturday morning finally arrived.

As soon as we stepped outside, a woman rolled down her window as we crossed the street.

“Thank you,” she shouted, and her voice broke as she began to cry. “Thank you!”

That moment, before it had even really begun, it had begun. I felt the full gravity of what we were doing. I wasn’t marching for myself alone, but in solidarity with so many others. Solidarity with my friends and family who didn’t have the opportunity to go. Solidarity with our Mexican immigrants. Solidarity with my Muslim brothers and sisters. Solidarity with people of color. Solidarity with Standing Rock. Solidarity with the earth.

As we moved into the city, I was overwhelmed by the number of people that I witnessed marching. Not just women, but men, children, people of all colors, creeds, and walks of life. I didn’t know their names. I didn’t know their stories. But we stood united.

I knew that, just as I was marching for so many, each of the marchers beside me were also marching for others. Some even carried signs with the names of the loved ones whom they marched for.

Although we were estimated into the millions across the world, each person marching represented so much more than just themselves. The sheer magnitude of it took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes.

In D.C., our numbers were so much larger than were planned for that they had to reroute the march. This resulted in a lot of confusion as we were packed into a standstill for nearly two hours.

It was at this time that a group of indigenous women marched through. They were playing their tribal drum, chanting, “Mni Wiconi! Water is life!” The shoulder-to-shoulder crowd parted for them.

I could remember the elation I felt when, in his final days of the presidency, Obama halted construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which was set to cut through sacred Native lands and risk the contamination of the water of millions. I watched videos of the protesters at Standing Rock rejoicing, and I believed in the power of our Constitutional right to “peaceably assemble.”

Three days after the March, Trump signed an executive order to advance the DAPL. It appears that, even after countless atrocities towards our Native tribes, even after Flint, we still have not learned our lesson.

This was not the first act by Trump in the first week of his presidency that reminded me why I protested, and it certainly was not the last. I’ve felt a lot of sadness, frustration, and anger this week, especially following his executive orders for the wall and the Muslim immigration ban.

Some people asked me why I marched, or why I wanted Trump to fail.

I did not march out of hate. I marched for love.

I marched for the protection of human and women’s rights, for action against climate change, for the protection of those whom Trump has already acted against.

I’m only 17. I was not able to vote in the 2016 election. In a year and a half I’ll be starting college, and in a few more years I’ll be fiscally independent. These are important years, years that will shape the rest of my life. And the election for the leadership of these critical years was entirely out of my hands. The March gave me a voice, a chance to have an impact, to be part of something bigger than myself.

The March unified me with the world. It gave me strength. It made me feel empowered.

Now, in these days where I feel that the hate and destruction facing us is unfathomably great, I remember how it felt to March down Pennsylvania Ave. I remember the strength. I remember the absolute hope I felt, the trust that we would not go down quietly.

I am inspired by those protesting at international airports, by the lawyers working pro bono to defend the huddled masses. I recognize in them the same passion that I felt in D.C. The same spirit moves in all of us.

It is now, in this time of crisis, that I call on that spirit. It would be easy to despair. But when we join together, we are not hopeless.

I have faith in the American people.