It was a cold winter day on January 20, 2018. Women, men, and children of all ages and backgrounds gathered in New York City for the 2nd Women’s March. The cars were blocked off from entering the streets. Police men stood on every corner in their bullet proof vests. Their K-9 dogs watching everyone march south from seventy-second and Central Park West to Forty-Third and Sixth Avenue.
There were tall black speakers set on the sidewalks and large flat screen TV’s displaying the stage that was set on Sixty-First to Sixty Second on Central Park West. Bruno Mars, Pink, and even Michael Jackson blared throughout the streets. Women danced their way through Manhattan, others chanted while holding their posters. One poster read, “Healthcare is a human right,” another “People of quality do not fear equality”, and “The power of the people is stronger than the people in power.” Around noon the music stopped, and the 200,000 started to wind down as the program of speakers took the stage.
Halsey, the musical artist, recited a poem. “He says I can’t say no to him that this much I owe to him,” she began her poem about sexual assault. The women in the pink hats cheered her on. Two women standing in front of me comforted one another as one wrapped her arms around the other. They looked as if they were crying. When Halsey’s poem ended the woman next to me, with a pink hat and black jacket yelled, “YOU GO GIRL!” The women behind her laughed and started to clap.
The election of Trump on November 8, 2017 left many women baffled. “I went to bed that night of the election just discouraged,” Teresa Shook told the Los Angeles Times. Shook took it upon herself to do something about it as she went to bed election night. She posted a Facebook message calling for a pro-woman march in Washington after the inauguration. Within twenty-four hours nearly 10,000 people had responded to her post, and with the help of a few online friends, a movement had begun.
The first Women’s March was held in Washington D.C. on January 21, 2017, Trump’s first full day as president. People from different backgrounds, genders, and cities across the world came together on this day. There were roughly four hundred thousand people gathered together at the southwest corner of the Capitol building, spilling into the Capital Mall. This was one of the largest single day protests in the U.S. history. Teresa Shook stood on the stage that day to speak about women’s rights as millions of women around the world rooted her on.
The main mission for the march is for a diverse group of women and their communities to create a social change. This movement raised consciousness on a diverse range of issues, provided training, and created outreach programs. The Women’s March is committed to making a change through nonviolent marches and building structures for those who have self-determination, respect, and dignity.
It is important that women stand up for themselves. “The Women’s March inspired real change,” The Feminist Press director Jamia Wilson told Forbes. More than a year after the first march, more women have started to speak up in their communities. The “Me Too” movement has galvanized women to speak out about sexual assault. There is more credit being given to women, especially on college campuses. Central Connecticut State University has had more events geared towards women empowerment such as the “Telling Her Story,” an event in which women tell their stories about surviving abuse, and being victims.
“There’s not really much of an organization. It’s just a group of passionate women,” said Samia Hussein, a 2010 graduate of Central Connecticut State University. Hussein is part of one of the “chapters” in the Women’s March organization for Connecticut. There are about 51 chapters in the state. They formed after the first March in Washington. The women wanted to make a change and took it upon themselves to be the voice for the voiceless. Hussein stands for immigration, and other women in her chapter have different reasons why they are a part of the Women’s March. No one is in charge because they all “work together and create ideas” for the community.
To keep the marches in every chapter a bit organized the women get to decide what march they want to take part of in their city. It is based on their beliefs. Usually when people want to pitch an idea for a rally or march the chapters come together from every part of the country with the national board members of the Women’s march. “Because it is such a big organization across all platforms we never really get to talk face to face, so we communicate through conference calls.” For recent rallies, such as the National Walkout Day that took place for the Stoneman Douglas victims there had to be a “discussion within the chapters” before it took place.
“It’s not about Trump the man,” said Terry O’Neill, the president of the National Organization for Women, to PBS. The first Women’s March was created to protect women’s rights, such as charging more for women’s healthcare and access to contraceptives. The result of the march has encouraged more women to become activists, which has led to movements across the nation. More women are running for congress in 2018. “More than 30,000 women have expressed interest in running for office,” reported Emily’s list, an organization dedicated to supporting democratic women. There has been an increase in the past few years as women are fighting to make a change for the future.
At the end of the second march, women applauded each other for walking and letting their voices be heard. The bus back to campus was parked in the middle of Forty-Third and Seventh. We hopped in our seats and looked out the window at the endless crowd of women, men, and children. Folks were tired, posters now bounced off hips, but as they dispersed into the streets of Manhattan they never took off their pink hats.