Women's March Chicago

Last Saturday marked the one year anniversary of one of the largest global protests ever, the Women’s March. Over a million people participated in Women’s Marches, and Chicago’s was attended by quite a few Notre Dame students.

This year, the organizers planned the central march for Las Vegas. With the messaging of Power to the Polls, focusing in on voter registration for the 2018 midterm elections.  In Chicago, there were activists handing out voter registration forms, and signs for some of Illinois’ potential Democratic candidates. The first big round of elections are coming up this November, with even earlier primaries, and those who may have been newly minted activists a year ago proved that this wave of energy and engagement has staying power.

 

As always, there were fantastic signs and an amazing community of people standing in solidarity and staying engaged, even a year later.   Here are a couple things I saw on Saturday:

1. Ballot Boxes

Whether a literal box mounted on a stick or a drawing on a sign about voter registration, the central message of this year’s Women’s March definitely shone through. In the wake of so many conversations and rulings about gerrymandered districts in Texas, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, activists were doing what they could to bring up the number of voters.

2. Rainbows

It seemed like half the crowd was sporting rainbow heart stickers, and there were quite a few pride and trans flags worn as capes.  In the wake of attempted restrictions on military service and the rescinding on federal guidelines to prevent discrimination, this crowd was showing the best side of the country.

3. Comedy

Honestly, if I only thought about the state of the nation, I might be paralyzed with fear.  Humor brings connection and keeps you laughing so you can stay vigilant.  My favorite sign included a laundry list of crucial issues like “Black Lives Matter” but chucked in “Lady Bird for Best Picture” to bring some levity to this whole mess.

4. College Students

Young people showed up! Despite classes having just resumed, Notre Dame students and Loyola students were demonstrating their support and showing that young people are jumping into this fight, even when they may not have a ton of resources and 2016 may have been their first election.

5. Representatives

Signs were calling out individual Illinois elected officials, demonstrating a new enthusiasm for local politics.  Some called out their own House Reps for acting like a rubber stamp for the national party’s agenda, and some campaigned for new, progressive candidates to show the options available for Illinois residents in the primary.

6. Star Wars

This one was just fun. But when a really popular series of movies is about the Resistance working to defeat a cruel regime… people are gonna make some signs.  Add to that the fact that most signs featured the late Carrie Fisher as Leia, who was known for her bravery in speaking out about mental illness and industry standards, and they were both meaningful and recognizable.

7. Bible Verses

I was heartened to see the public reclamation of Bible verses by this group of protesters.  From some of the classics about loving thy neighbor to Old Testament ones about being judged by the actions you take, religion was persuasively and compellingly used. It was a great reminder that Christianity belongs to no party, no exclusive or homogenous group of people.

 

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