January 20th, 2017 will forever be a historic day as it marks the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. But it is January 21st, not the 20th, that will go down in the history books. It is on that day that hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people responded to a call to action and launched marches and protests across the country and around the world. It all started with a simple Facebook event, launched in the aftermath of the emotional November election, calling for people to march in the nation’s capitol to protest the then President-Elect. But what began as a single Facebook event became something so much more, as thousands pledged to show up and march.
And man, did they show up. On Saturday, January 21st, over half a million people showed up in Washington D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington.
Thousands of more people arrived in D.C to protest Donald Trump’s presidency than to celebrate it. That single Facebook event sparked the rise of “sister marches” and on that same Saturday, in nearly every major city in the country and in cities across the world, similar marches were hosted. Millions of people worldwide came together to make history.
I wish I could say I took part in one of those marches, but I regretfully could not attend. Instead, thanks to modern technology, I sat watching different live streams of protests across the country. I watched people spreading messages of love, and celebrities using their celebrity to enforce unity. I felt the palpable atmosphere of anger and unrest being channeled into action and effort. I admired the creative signs, which expertly mixed satire with political power.
After quite a while of observing the protests, I decided it was hypocritical of me to just sit and remain watching. In an attempt to take part in the electric movement overtaking the country, I grabbed my dog’s leash and headed outside to go on my own little march. I was immediately struck by how beautiful the weather was outside; it was sunny and unseasonably warm for a January afternoon. I thought back to the day before, Inauguration day, and remembered how rainy and cold D.C. looked, as the President-Elect became President.
The irony was not lost on me. The day Donald Trump, the man who refuses to acknowledge climate change, stepped into office, he was welcomed with dreary, miserable weather. While the day after, when 500,000 people arrived in Washington to protest his arrival, the weather welcomed the masses with a sunny embrace. If that’s not some kind of karmic retribution on behalf of Mother Earth, I don’t know what is.
What began as a march for women became a march for human beings. People of all colors, ethnicities, religions, beliefs, genders, socioeconomic statuses, and purposes came together, stood up, and moved forward both literally and figuratively.
After watching the country step up and speak out, I can truly say I am proud to live in America. Not Donald Trump’s America, but the America that America is supposed to be…
- The America where the hallmark of democracy is questioning authority when injustice is present and staying resilient when faced with adversity.
- The America where the right to affect change is not a privilege, but a right.
- The America where millions of people across the country who are separated by geography can unite under a common goal.
But there is something so tragic about unity. The tragedy in unity is that often, tragedy causes unity. Examples of this can be cited in almost any major movement (patriotic or otherwise) in America’s history. Before people unite to fight for their beliefs, there is often some kind of misfortune or form of injustice that triggers the movement.
So I would like to take a minute to thank the catalyst of this current movement against intolerance: Donald Trump.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for awakening us to the direction our country is headed, and embodying why we so drastically need to make a change. Thank you for teaching us that our voices are stronger than yours. Thank you for reaffirming the knowledge that our 140 characters can impact just as many people as yours, because words are powerful.
Mr. President, you opened our eyes to the fires of misogyny, racism, xenophobia, intolerance, homophobia, and metathesiophobia (fear of change) that burn in the hearts of too many people. And you have filled our lungs with the breath needed to blow them all out. Thank you, for giving us a reason to march, for giving our voices their purpose.
But there is one thing you should know: we will not give up until justice has prevailed. We will keep marching and not sit down until the entire country is walking with us.
Julia Bialek is a sophomore at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua.
Additional Inside Press Photos from the 2017 Woman’s March on Washington may be viewed on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InsideChappaquaMagazine/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10154922219633669