My Experience at the Womens March in Cleveland and, "Now What?"

On January 21st, 2017 I attended a women’s march; along with 3 million other people, on 7 different continents, over the span of 30 hours. And while we may not have been marching side-by-side, their overwhelming support and unity boomed throughout downtown Cleveland. The march in Cleveland, while small in comparison to others, drew in roughly 5,000 people. Everyone of a different age, gender, race, religion, and socioeconomic background were gathered in the middle of downtown. Marching to acknowledge the already present issues, and the ones furthered by Presidents Trumps administration; contributing to the inequalities of genders, races, and religions, human rights violations, economic injustices, reproductive laws, immigration laws, climate change, religious freedom, and so many more.

The day of the march was an oddly sunny and warm one; getting to Cleveland by 8:30 am, and hopping on the RTA with three other wonderful ladies that I would call marching buddies for the day. Stepping onto that bus is when it hit me, there were pink hats and shirts as far as the eye could see. People on their daily commute gave us curious stares and approving smiles. We soon filed off the train, and slowly poured into the streets. We poked our way into the middle of the crowd, and we couldn't believe our eyes, a sea of signs in every color, shape, and size. Signs for every social and economic cause you could think of. Ranging from funny signs like, “WHAT MERYL SAID” and “NACHO UTERUS” to serious signs like, “TRUMP I AM JOHN LEWIS” and “JUDGE ME BY WHAT’S IN MY HEAD, NOT WHAT’S ON MY HEAD!” Two ladies even noticed my friend and I didn’t have signs so they came over and gave us theirs. 

We listened to about seven speakers, then began to march. We passed business establishments where people would come outside and stand with us; under tall buildings where people would videotape us from the roof; and through the streets where people would get out of their cars and chant with us. Singing things like “Women’s rights are human rights” and “Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.”

The energy was incredible, like nothing I’ve ever felt before; marching with 3 million other people worldwide, ranging from Washington D.C. to Nairobi, Kenya and even Antarctica. To come together felt incredible, yet completely infuriating that a march was even necessary. Nevertheless, my time at the march was truly unforgettable.

Unfortunately, now that the marches are over we’re left with the question, “what’s next?” Well, here are 5 ways you can keep that fire burning:

  1. Go to more protests. The women’s march was about supporting and understanding the rights and inequalities of all people. So the most important thing you can do now is show up for marches and protests like No DAPL and Black Lives Matter. Activism is crucial; if you’re fighting for injustice you cannot just pick and choose who you fight for, it must be intersectional.
  2. Educate. This one is pivotal, educate yourself and others. This also means correcting any false information you see, and understanding you privilege completely.
  3. Contact your local Congress person through letters or email. Let them know you feel strongly about any of these issues.
  4. Support each other. Women, and especially women of color or in the LGBTQA spectrum already have the odds stacked against them within the workforce. Therefore, it’s important for us to build each other up rather than competing for everything, and tearing each other down.
  5. Put your money where your mouth is and donate. I know not everyone is capable of this, especially us college students; but if you have the means there are so many wonderful organizations that need our help right now. Here’s a very short list of some of these great organizations: