The Women’s March was a worldwide protest held on Jan. 21 to show solidarity and unity among women, their partners, and children for equity and civil rights. Over 5 million individuals worldwide and over one million in Washington, D.C. participated during the event. For this three-part series on the Women’s March, May Ramos, past editor-in-chief and former national president, and Xiomara Santana, a staff writer and collegiate sister from the University of Iowa share their experiences of the event. Part one features Ramos as she tells us how she was inspired to be a part of the movement.
By May “Mosaic” Ramos, Contributing Writer
I never considered myself an activist. I paid attention to the news, but I rarely publicly shared my thoughts or feelings about recent events and usually kept those conversations limited to those closest to me.
When Donald Trump announced his intentions of running for President, I, like many others in this country, laughed it off. The idea that he wanted to run was ludicrous to me. It could never happen (or so I thought).
Fast-forward to election night, I felt consumed by disbelief, anger, and helplessness. I was so appalled by Trump’s behavior throughout his campaign and could not accept that I would have to call him the President of the United States of America. I remember the day after the election feeling heavy and laced with anxiety with what was to come. Many attempted to reassure me that “everything would be fine” and that “we will get through this,” but I could not shake the nagging feeling that I’ve continue to feel since the election. I resolved to take action with others who felt just as inspired to do something instead of sitting back and letting fear and anxiety force me into complacency. When news of a women’s march was circulating on Facebook, I knew I wanted to be in D.C. and felt an overwhelming sense of obligation to stand up and join with others in solidarity.
A Movement is Born
The Women’s March on Washington was an idea initiated by a retiree in Hawaii, Teresa Shook, who asked her group of friends to help her organize a group of women to go to D.C. What started out as a group of 40 turned into a demonstration that extended across the nation and the world.
In the early stages of planning there were criticisms of the name of the event (originally labeled “Million Women March”) as well as whether or not the event was inclusive enough. According to an FAQ by USA Today, “The march…was initially criticized for failing to include any women of color as organizers.” As a result, the team of organizers transformed into a more diverse group that included Tamika Mallory, an African-American civil rights activist and former executive director of the National Action Network; Linda Sarsour, a Muslim who heads the Arab American Association of New York; and Carmen Perez, a Latina activist who is executive director of Harry Belafonte’s Gathering for Justice.
The march, now officially dubbed the Women’s March on Washington, outlined the following mission on its website: “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”
On Facebook, over 150 thousand individuals self-reported their intentions of attending the event, but actual attendance numbers well exceeded initial expectations. In a thank you email sent from the organizers of the Women’s March, “About 1.2 million people gathered in Washington, D.C. and another three million gathered in cities and towns across our nation, making the Women’s March the largest mass demonstration in U.S. history” and seemingly much larger than the crowds that had attended the day previously for the inauguration. Despite the large crowds at the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., officials reported no arrests.
Why I Marched
The beauty of the event from what I witnessed in D.C. was the presence of so many diverse individuals and opinions. No matter what one’s beliefs were that day, the emphasis was not on the specific issue you were standing up for, but rather the fact that you were standing up for something.
I marched for the many groups of people in this country who have been marginalized, mistreated, and who have been told in some shape or form they don’t matter or that they don’t belong, that they’re an “other” instead of an equal.
I marched for my aspiration for America, a nation that should celebrate diversity not division.
I marched for a nation that should leverage differences to promote positive change, protect human rights and stand up for common decency and respect. A nation that should not afraid to hold our leaders accountable and “…holds these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Since that day, I have vowed that I will continue to march forward by educating myself on the actions of this administration to bring awareness to others and stand up to injustices that violate our rights.
For those individuals that are looking for ways to become involved, the Women’s March launched a “10 Actions in 100 Days” campaign, which outlines steps individuals can take to voice their concerns on issues of their choosing. The first action that was released for the campaign was a postcard campaign to Senators that included free printable downloads. More information on these next collective actions can be found on the official website at www.womensmarch.com.
Since taking office, President Trump has taken actions that have been detrimental to the beliefs that are important to many individuals who attended the Women’s March on Washington. Though it is easy to be discouraged by the recent actions of the President, it is important that we continue to exercise our rights of free speech and assembly and continue to stay informed of the actions of this administration and how those actions will affect the citizens of this country.
Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: All personal statements, beliefs, and opinions in this article are subject to the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Jade Times and/or Delta Phi Lambda.
- Women’s March
- May Ramos
- Christine Ho
- Angie Marable
- Editors, USA Today. Women’s March on Washington FAQ: What you need to know. 2017, January 17. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/01/17/womens-march-washington-where-when-logistics/96156298/.
- Stein, Perry & Sandhya Somashekhar. 2017, January 3. It started with a retiree. Now the Women’s March could be the biggest inauguration demonstration.
- Women’s March on Washington. Retrrieved from https://www.womensmarch.com.
- Seipel, Brooke. 2017, January 22. Women’s March on Washington yields zero arrests: report. Retrieved from http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/315529-womens-march-on-washington-yields-zero-arrests-report.