On Jan. 21, 2017, protesters took the streets of D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington to show the recently sworn in President Donald Trump that Americans will not be quiet about the causes they care about. The protest quickly spread across the world with people showing their support for women’s rights, immigrant’s rights, Black Lives Matter and the LGBT+ community in over 60 countries. The diversity of the march was its strongest asset with people from different races, socioeconomic classes, religions, genders, sexual orientations and ages all taking part. Among such a passionate group of people, the group that stood out the most to me were the children.
A young boy stands near protest signs and looks off towards the march. Taken by Hayley Hardison
Throughout the march, babies in handmade mini “pussy hats” or pink beanies could be seen in strollers or in their parents’ arms. Many toddlers carried handmade posters with simple slogans for equal rights drawn in crayon or magic marker.
Elementary-school aged children chanted along with the marchers, and had conversations with the adults around them about the issues addressed during the rally and the march. They talked about what democracy is and discussed the meaning behind some of the posters depicting female empowerment. They stood as a reminder to older generations that it’s our duty to protect our rights and preserve them for future generations..
Before the rally began, groups of participants walked across the Washington Monument to reach the U.S. Capitol where the rally would commence. During my walk, two young girls beside me began to chant, “Show me what democracy looks like,” to which the crowd around us responded “This is what democracy looks like!” Their mother walked beside me with a smile on her face as I began to tear up myself. I was inspired by the initiative that these two girls who were presumably ten years younger than me were taking.
I saw a boy around the age of 4 standing with his family at the bottom of the stairs of one of the federal buildings along Independence Avenue with a sign that read “both boys and girls can play with Legos.” This simple, messy sign complete with a drawing of a block of Legos showed the basic understanding of equality from a child’s mind, which reminded me things like intolerance and hate are taught, they’re not innate.
About halfway through the march itself, a toddler sat perched on the shoulders of an adult and chanted “My body, my choice,” while holding a sign with the same slogan. She shouted the phrase with such passion that she caught the attention of the crowd and they began to chant with her. Hundreds of teenagers and adults were being led in a chant by a 2 or 3-year-old and it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
A child holds a “Love Army” sign in the middle of the crowd. Taken by Hayley Hardison
Marches such as this one reminds us of what is possible when we unite. Protecting our rights at the moment is essential, but it’s important to remind ourselves that there are entire generations after us that need the tools necessary to continue to protect these rights.
I saw a handful of children carrying signs throughout the march said “If you build a wall, my generation will tear it down.” This march served as a reminder that it’s our job to make sure those walls never even get built.
Thumbnail taken by Hayley Hardison