**Disclaimer: All views expressed in this article represent the views of the individual author and not Her Campus UConn as a whole.**
According to USA Today, earlier this year on January 21st, 2017, an estimated 2.6 million people marched to stand up for their rights as well as revolt against President Trump’s first day in office. The main march occurred in the nation’s capital in Washington D.C. where an estimated 500,000 protestors attended. All over the nation, sister marches were held in major cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Hartford, and more. It was a historic day for people everywhere, and especially women. Our writers and some friends attended marches and decided to share their experience.
Accounts from Ireland Gilmore and Izzy Ostrowski
“The honor of marching alongside thousands of people, speaking out for the equality and rights of women, is an immense one. The Women’s March that took place in many places across the United States, as well as the rest of the world, was historical, memorable, and deafening with pride. We both attended the march in Boston and experienced something far bigger than something that our minds could ever fabricate. Thousands of authentic and creative signs flooded the streets and it was a challenge not to try and read every single one of them. There were many signs that left deep impressions, but one in particular stood out to us. A woman was holding a sign that said, “White Women: We can do BETTER.” We have the power and privilege to educate ourselves and others, to listen to those whose voices are quieted, to speak up against oppression and discrimination, and to build future generations full of empathy and equality. The Women’s March in Boston was incredible, and we are thankful to have been a part of it.”
Written by Alexis Angelini
As a woman who firmly believes in feminism and equality for everyone, is pro-choice, agrees with allowing refugees into this country, and supports the ACA among many other things, these last few months have been crippling, embarrassing, and downright scary. I stayed up and cried on the phone with high school friends as we feared for our future when we found out the devastating news back in November. I couldn’t help but call my parents about the depressing and eerie feeling on campus that day. My strong art major and women’s gender studies minor Mom, who’s an amazing role model, tried to tell me to hang in as best I could even though she was also incredibly scared as well. I talked to my Republican father – who voted for Hillary – and told him I was afraid. I am afraid to be a woman during this time period. On January 20th, as I walked through the hallway on the way to my dorm room, all I could hear was the voice of this “pussy grabber” echoing as he spewed his inauguration speech. It made me sick to my stomach; I could not believe that this horrible man was taking on this highly respected and powerful position. That moment eradicated any hesitation or doubt I had about going to a march the next day and I was now solely determined to do whatever it took to get to Hartford the next day to stand up for my rights.
Before I woke up the morning of January 21st, I had no definite plans of even attending the event. I had known for months through different media posts and Facebook events that I wanted to attend and be a part of the movement. However, being a broke college student in the middle-of-nowhere Connecticut made it a little more difficult. Soon after Trump was officially sworn into office, I started texting friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, and people that I only knew from brief interactions in class to see if I could hitch a ride to the march. I continued my search by asking around for a car I could borrow and started to estimate the cost of an Uber to Hartford. Originally, I had a group of interested travel companions that eventually dwindled down to just one: me.
Instead of being deterred from the lack of companionship, this only further inspired me to stand up for my rights. Change can start with just one person, so the morning of the 21st, I purchased a last minute ticket for the 10:45 a.m. bus to Hartford from UConn. I hadn’t even researched how far away the capitol building, where the march was being held, was from the bus depot. But this was a day of spontaneous actions to help advocate for a movement larger than myself; I’d figure it out! I pulled out a box from my dorm floor’s recycling/trash room, cut out a square, and decorated it. I bundled up in my jacket and ran out to catch the bus.
On the bus I met some fellow marchers who I actually stayed with all day. On the way to Hartford, I tried to pump myself for an empowering day by listening to the queen of female empowerment, Beyoncé. When we reached Hartford, my two new friends and I took a short walk to the beautiful gold-capped capitol building. Since we arrived a little early we grabbed lunch close by at Panera, the perfect place for a pre-activism meal.
At 1:00 p.m. we stood amongst an estimated 10,000 men, women, and children. Pink-eared hats, signs, and flags stretched as far as the eye could see. We were able to squeeze by and stand surprisingly close to the stage. The event was extremely peaceful and it was later reported that not a single incident or arrest occurred.
While listening to these speeches, I felt incredible. Even as an out-of-state student, having the ability to listen to such a prominent public figure like Gov. Malloy speak out and agree with us was amazing. He said, “If we don’t raise our voice on this day and every day, when other people are trying to take our country away and lead us in a different direction, then we’re missing who we are and what we are.”
He even created a declaration stating that January 21st, 2017 is Women’s March on Washington Day in Connecticut. The document expressed the state’s views on healthcare, equality, and more, which were all positive and inclusive. His words further confirmed my solo journey to the march. In between the many speakers, people chanted things such as “Loves Trumps Hate,” and “Yes We Can.” These short phrases made me feel more comfortable about my place as a women in 2017.
The event provoked a feeling like no other; standing in solidarity with these people uniting to make a change. I became particularly excited when I realized that a nice portion of the people I was among were male. It means a lot for us women to come together, but the fact that men, who have been known to be historically resistant to women’s rights, were supporting us felt good. This march was mainly for the women of our country, but also about unifying everyone to fight back against hate and prejudice that we’ve seen with the new administration.
My roommate later said to me, “I can’t tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing. What’s going on is horrible, yet it’s uniting everyone together to make us strong.”
As the crowd started to clear out, we headed back to the bus depot to catch the bus back to Storrs. When we reached Storrs, I departed from my new friends, people I hope to see again soon- nothing brings people together like conflict and crisis. I reflected on my day and am still so proud of myself that I took a leap of faith and made the trip on my own. I felt so strongly that I needed to be involved in this movement and acted on that spiritual inclination. Please keep on fighting ladies!
Images courtesy of Alexis Angelini, Ireland Gilmore, and Izzy Ostrowski.