by Gabrielle Woodard
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the “right to peaceable assemble.” On Saturday, January 21, 2017, an estimated 1 million people marched in Washington, D.C., and more than 5 million people marched around the world in the Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches. The March was a response to the political climate in the United States during the 2016 election, including derogatory comments made by candidates about women, minorities, the LGBTQA community, immigrants and the disabled.
Attending the March in Washington was an amazing experience. I was there with 1 million of my closest friends, and not a single person was arrested. We all shared the same sentiment: This was one of the nicest crowds we had ever been a part of. While we could not hear the rally before the March because of the sheer amount of people in attendance, we bonded as a group with the people around us. With so many people in such a small space, there was no cell or internet service. The sense of community with the people around us was amazing. From time to time, there would be sing-alongs of songs from the musical “Hamilton,” Beyoncé songs and songs I learned in my Sunday Schools days, like “This Little Light of Mine.”
In a short moment of internet service, I received a CNN update saying the March in D.C. was too big for what organizers had originally planned. At that moment, we knew the crowd would be moving soon. We were surrounded by people as far as the eye could see.
The crowd began moving down the National Mall because the street parallel to it was so full of marchers. The white plastic walkways were still covering the Mall from the Inauguration, making it the perfect runway for the march.
The March was empowering, from the number of people holding creative signs to the number of children participating and learning a lesson I hope they never forget.
While the initial March was only one day, the Women’s March on Washington moved on to its next step, “10 actions, 100 days.” As we know, protesting for one day is easy, but maintaining an activist spirit for many years is hard.