USFSP Students Take on Women's March

January 21, 2017. A simple date in time, but one that holds monumental meaning. This was a day where women and men of all backgrounds came together in support of the same goal; equality for all. This was the day of the Women’s March.

The Women’s March was a demonstration for women’s rights- such as LGBTQ, religious, immigrant, refugee, reproductive, and scientific rights. It was a march for everyone.

The main march took place in Washington D.C but there were many other marches that took place all over the world in solidarity, hoping to achieve similar goals that we have been fighting so desperately for and need to continue fighting for, now more than ever.

Because of the distance from Florida to DC, a local Women's March was organized in St. Petersburg that had an impressive turnout with over 20,000 people in attendance. However, despite the fact that there was a march in our backyard, some people decided to make the journey to Washington, including students from our university.

Emily Beck, a USFSP student, traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in this life-changing march.

Photo provided by Emily Beck

“I participated in this march because while I am a woman fighting for women's rights, I also viewed this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of history.”

Getting to the Women’s March was an adventure in itself for Emily.

“I rode on a Rally bus with a group of other women from the Tampa area. The bus ride was nearly 15 hours each way. We arrived on Saturday morning, spent the day in D.C. and returned on the bus later that evening, arriving in Tampa on Sunday afternoon.”

The irony of the Women’s March was the fact that there really wasn't much of any marching because of the record amount of people in attendance. If you saw press coverage of the event, you could see the endless sea of pink hats and colorful signs with equally colorful language in support of the movement.

“Something that surprised me was the number of people who were there. I knew there were supposed to be 250,000 or so, but according to various news sites, there were nearly 1.4 million people in D.C. EVERYTHING was crowded, the lines for anything were ENORMOUS. The city felt truly overrun by marchers.”

Emily felt with the amount of people that populated D.C, conquering on her own might be more rewarding.

“I initially started my day with two girls I met on the bus who were USF Tampa students, but I quickly decided to do my own thing and explored by myself. I interviewed a plethora of women at the march as we headed toward the main stage, where the speeches were happening.”

Another USFSP student who participated in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. was Christine Leonard, a senior Biology major.

Christine during the march.

Christine’s reason for participating in the march?

“For me, it wasn’t just about women’s rights--it was about human rights, democracy, and, especially the acceptance of scientific facts. The Women’s March gave me a chance to march for the dignity of both women and science.”

Christine marching with her friends.

As for the critics of the March, Christine says they just don’t understand what the march was truly about.

“It seems like a lot of people think the march was trying to degrade men or put women in an eternal victim role. In reality, the women (and men) who marched only want for everyone to have the same rights, opportunities, and protection under the law, no matter their gender or race.”

Photo provided by Christine Leonard

Regardless of the critics, Christine is proud of her participation in this historic day.

“I’d never felt so American. Because we were not protesting any of the principles from the Founding Fathers or the Constitution-- we were protecting everyone’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Photo provided by Christine Leonard

Sometimes it is easy to feel like you are just one person and whatever you do won't make an impact. But it does. Every single person that attended the Women’s March -- whether it be in DC, St. Petersburg, or even Sweden -- contributed to a global message.

With hate and negativity at an unprecedented high, peaceful protests like the Women’s March are the perfect way to combat it.

So, why the need to march? Because, hopefully, our daughters will never have to.

Emily holds a similar opinion.

“It’s something I can always look back on maybe tell my own daughter one day; that I was there and I was part of the movement.”

Whatever your involvement with the march, or even women's rights, that will be a day we can all celebrate.

History was made. Or should I say, Herstory?

Photo provided by Emily Beck

Photo provided by Emily Beck

HCXOXO, 

Imani Craig and Kelli Carmack