Why I March: Karen Caudillo Attends the 2019 Women's March in Washington, D.C.

Even with a high of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, numerous women marched in the streets on January 19, 2019. This was the third annual Women’s March in Washington, D.C. These marches originally started as a pushback against the sexism and xenophobia that has become present in society. Karen Caudillo, one of our very own Knights here at UCF, made the trip up to DC to march alongside her friends. 

After experiencing the welcoming and empowering atmosphere, Karen took the time to sit down and talk with Her Campus at UCF about how the trip helped her re-center herself and renew her purpose. 

Q: Why do you march?

Karen Caudillo: Being a daughter of a Mexican working-class mother who has worked tirelessly to give me opportunity is why I march. I remember her working two jobs growing up while still being expected to manage a household. My mother faced sexual harassment, wage theft and exploitation in many forms. I’m a DACA recipient, so my issues are currently a very important topic nationally. Sadly, stories of working-class women of color like my mother’s aren’t centered. I march to remind myself that my mother still isn’t free and she still has dreams.

There are 11 million undocumented Americans living in the United States. Comprehensive Immigration Reform would provide relief and a pathway to citizenship for my community. Other issues I march for include climate change, healthcare, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, disability issues and any issue that marginalizes folks. 

Q: What kind of impact does marching have on you? What impact do you think it has on society?

KC: I’m honest about my concerns with our current administration. Dissent is patriotic and marching reminds me that others feel the same. Living in the south can be oppressive at times so traveling up north reminds me that we aren’t the only ones fighting against hate. Marching provides a space for folks to keep pushing for social progress. We need these spaces to keep moving forward. 

Q: When do you think that marching will make the change that is desired?

KC: This march will help young folks learn that we can’t normalize this hate and rhetoric. The change will come with time and there’s no timeline. The fight for justice never ends. I’m not free until you’re free, and you’re not free until I’m free. Our freedom and struggle are linked together with something most call “intersectionality,” otherwise known as oppression.  

Q: Is there anything that you would want anyone to know about the Women's March?

KC: I encourage everyone to travel to your local, state or national Women’s March. Come with an open heart and willingness to learn. Make new friends, learn how to heal your community and become a real ally to uplift marginalized folks. 

As a student here at UCF, Karen has always pushed for change and a better community. Last spring, she and Theressa Tong vied to be President and Vice President of UCF’s SGA. On the platform of “IgKnight your possibilities,” both girls wanted to bring a more inclusive experience to students. Before that, Karen fought with a group of Dreamers against Trump’s DACA rollback. A firebrand national activist for social justice, she’s studying at UCF with hopes of being a lawyer one day. Needless to say, she's accomplishing a lot and that won't be stopping anytime soon.

All photos provided by Karen Caudillo.