The Women’s March that made history on Jan. 21 of last year is nearing its first anniversary. The protest was considered largely a response to his election and inauguration, as well as an opposition to the extremely problematic policies of his campaign. Unlike the grim shadow that many people felt was cast over the country when he officially took office, the Women’s March was representative of hope for the future regardless of who sat in the Oval Office. It is hard to say whether or not an event as impactful as the march would have spread like wildfire across the nation and even the world had a figure so devoid of decency like Trump not been elected. His unfortunate win sparked a fire for the pursuit of justice and equality in all forms that is only just beginning to burn.
The Women’s March was a worldwide protest advocating for women’s rights, as well as for other social justice issues such as immigration, healthcare, reproductive rights, racial equality, religious freedom and LGBTQ rights. The march was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history to date, and it couldn’t have been done without the wonderful women who organized and ran the march in Washington, D.C. Their bravery, charisma, passion and drive led to a powerful and meaningful movement that served to create a domino effect for other amazing movements. The admirable women – and men – who were involved in making this event happen included Teresa Shook, Evvie Harmon, Fontaine Pearson, Bob Bland, Breanna Butler, Vanessa Wruble, Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, Janaye Ingram, Paola Mendoza, Cecile Richards, Gloria Steinem, Harry Belafonte, LaDonna Harris, Angela Davis and Dolores Huertes. Several marches were also organized outside of the U.S., one of which even took place in Antarctica. In total, between three and a little over five million people participated in all the marches together.
“If we – the millions of Americans who believe in common decency, in the greater good, in justice for all – if we fall into the trap by separating ourselves by our causes and our labels, then we will weaken our fight and we will lose,” America Ferrara, one of the attendees and speakers of the march, stated. “But if we commit to what aligns us, if we stand together steadfast and determined, then we stand a chance of saving the soul of our country.” I believe her words perfectly summed up the essence of the march.
But have we kept up the same momentum since then? I would say the answer is a definite yes. The Women’s March served as a wake-up call that gave other amazing women and allied men the strength to create their own events and movements on stances that they firmly believe in. The march served as a precursor to the #MeToo movement that spread through social media like wildfire in 2017. While Trump’s history of sexual harassment gave some men an even stronger sense of entitlement over women, the #MeToo movement empowered many women to share their stories of sexual abuse, harassment and rape or show support for the cause.
Just over a week ago another movement gained momentum, this time in response to the #MeToo movement and the Harvey Weinstein accusations. The #TimesUp movement, also against sexual harassment, was particularly aimed to hold the men in Hollywood who have been accused of sexual harassment and their enablers accountable. While there have been differing opinions on the effectiveness of this movement and the “black uniform” that most attendees at the Golden Globes took part in, it seems to be a step in the right direction.
The issues that are finally coming to light cannot be resolved overnight. The most vital asset for activism is keeping momentum and stamina. We must continue what began with the Women’s March almost a year ago through our unity and commitment to seeking justice. Amplifying the voices that need to be heard is one of the most important things we can all do to achieve social justice, and I think the movements that took hold of 2017 were perfect examples of how we can do that. It’s amazing how far we’ve carried one another just in the past 365 days.
There is an aroma of progression in the air for 2018, and I’m confident that we will only become stronger. Here’s to hoping this year’s Women’s March will be just as powerful, if not more, than the last.