January 20, 2017, saw the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, however, January 21 is the day that will go down in history. Much like the women’s suffrage marches in 1913, women took a stance yet again in the Women’s March to reaffirm that women’s rights are human rights.
Washington D.C, New York and Chicago all had huge marches as expected, but the grassroots level political involvement in small towns throughout the world was truly empowering. In Greensboro, there was a march downtown that gathered thousands of people.
People gathered to the Greensboro Women’s March of every age and ability to stand up for their right to express their rights as women or support women.
Two children in particular were so happy to be present that they made their own signs for the event. Collin and Addie were both elementary school aged and made signs that said, “equality,” and, “love wins.” Their involvement in this march with their parents spoke volumes about the range of people can be passionate about social issues that face the world.
While cute signs made by kids certainly warmed the hearts of onlookers there were several signs at the Women’s March that really hit on the rhetoric that was used in the Presidential campaign. A young student held a sign that read, “Our Rights are Not up for Grabs.” Many other signs referenced abortion rights, access to birth control and women’s preventative care as well as transgender rights.
Signs are quick powerful or funny bursts to draw people in, but the beauty of this movement was marching alongside people who want everyone in the world to simply feel safe. From the chants to conversations with the people surrounding me I knew I was with like-minded people who care about others.
Popular chants were the go to at the Women’s March of the Triad as they yelled, “Fired up, ready to go,” and the Michelle Obama tagline, “When they go low, we go high.” The popular chant from the United Farm Workers in 1972 was resurrected as the crowd chanted “Si, se puede! Yes, we can!”
The chants were important to ensure that a united voice was heard, but the beauty of the march was that so many people had reasons to be there and things that they were passionate about.
One attendee, Casey O’Hara said,“I felt it was important to attend today to show my fellow citizens, our government officials and the world that we do not stand for the racist, xenophobic, ableist, misogynistic ideals on which our new president ran his campaign.”
Many of those in attendance reflected the views of O’Hara as they proclaimed they were there to stand for those who don’t have a voice and to help influence change at the grassroots level.
One group of women, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “This is the first of many marches. We are not here to get rid of a president, but rather to get him to see that America’s values and his values during the campaign are very different. We will stand for what we believe in.”
While many focused on the president himself, one march attendee looked at things a little differently. Nat Hayes said, “I personally find it very interesting that all media accounts of the Women’s March describe it first as a Trump protest and additionally a women’s rights march. I would have marched today for the same reasons if Hillary was elected.”
Hayes continued, “One person in power doesn’t have the same impact as thousands of people being present, initiating conversations and answering questions which is what I’ve seen all over social media today.
Hayes’ concerns were echoed throughout the march in signs, chants and side conversations of attendees. However, once the march reached LeBauer park everyone became silent. Music and spoken word were huge parts of the day as the struggle that many experience was illuminated and the courage to continue on was shared.
The Triad Women’s March Greensboro told the world that it stands in solidarity with the women who took to the streets of Washington D.C. to stand for rights of all spectrums of women whether people of color, transgender, cisgender and the young women who will be growing up throughout Trump’s presidency.
The march was not defined as a protest in the event description on Facebook, but it was described as a march for rights. This was not a march against President Trump, but one to show that American’s do not want to step back from the progress that has been made. America wants to continue moving forward.
In 1913, just one day before President Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated, women took to the streets to march for their right to vote. Many onlookers were unkind to the suffragettes and police did little to assist.
It stands as a statement that over 100 years ago women were fighting for their rights and faced backlash, but here women are again in 2017. As they were saying at the march, “We’re not going anywhere.”