January 21st, 2017 was a landmark day. Millions of people gathered around the United States—and internationally—in support of human rights. Complete with creative signs, inspiring chants, and passionate speakers, the march was the largest national gathering in recent history. For various perspectives, we interviewed PHS students who attended the march in Washington, D.C., which had the biggest showing.
Given the number of marchers, it was clear that there existed a diversity of motivations for attending.
When we asked Celia Silver ’18 why she marched, she responded, “I marched because I felt really overwhelmed by what was happening, and really sad, and I felt like I needed to channel those feelings into action. It was a way for me to cope with the aftermath of the inauguration and a way for me to feel like I was not …complacent.”For Jamaica Ponder ’17, marching felt like a responsibility.
“I went to the march initially because I felt like I was supposed to. As a woman, especially as a woman of color, I think going out to demonstrate is extremely important and an integral part of the new wave of intersectional feminism. Especially combating the current administration…,” said Ponder.
Regardless of why the students attended the march, their days were powerful and memorable.
Describing her sentiments as she marched, Maddy Troilo ’17 said, “I went with my mom and my sister and some friends, so I felt kind of surrounded by love which was a nice antidote to the negativity of the news recently. I felt excited about the power we have as a community to resist the new administration.”
For Silver, the power of the moment was immediate.
“When I first got off the subway, and I saw all of the people, I just started crying … It was just so amazing to see all of these kind, compassionate, interesting, smart people who were all gathered in solidarity…I felt a sense of community.”
I also made it to D.C. that day, and the most memorable moment for me was seeing and listening to 6-year-old immigration rights activist Sophie Cruz. As she transitioned from English to Spanish, it dawned on me that leaders are not always the people who we expect, and there is comfort and power in that.
The day was thought-provoking too, and did more than establish common ground.
“[The march] made me think about … how divided we are in our attempt to be united…The march was extremely white-washed, and this has always been a prevailing theme in feminism … and that was something that was really evident to me as I was marching,” said Ponder. “You need to recognize the problems with the movement before you can fix them.”
Finally, when we asked the interviewees whether they were following up on the march with activism, we got yeses all around. Silver and Troilo mentioned calling congressional representatives. Silver has also been donating to organizations like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. Troilo has been focusing on contacting representatives from out-of-state, who are undecided on which way they’ll vote when it comes to Trump’s appointees. Ponder has written about her march experience for Rookie Magazine, and W Magazine interviewed her as well.
According to Ponder, “Rule number one of being a good activist is you can’t tackle everything at once.“