Becoming part of history, alumni participate in Women’s Marches around the world
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On Jan. 21 millions of people marched in the U.S. and around the world in Women’s Marches in response to president Donald Trump’s inauguration. Among the millions were some SCDS alumni, who shared their stories.
Zoe Dym, ‘16, in Honolulu, Hawaii
“It was so amazing. The whole time I was thinking, ‘This is the kind of movement that keeps its name in history books, and I’m part of that.’
“I remember my music teacher from elementary school telling our class how she saw her grandmother in the news when she marched with (Martin Luther King, Jr.). And I was like ‘Whoa, 30 years from now I can tell my kids I took part in the Women’s March.
“And you know how (the) Women’s March wasn’t just about women’s rights but also other stuff like LGBTQ+, racial justice, freedom of religion, climate change and just a bunch of other social issues? Well, at the rally in Hawaii there was a lot of talk about Hawaiian sovereignty. Now that Trump is president, people in Hawaii (mostly native Hawaiians) want to break free from the U.S. more than ever.”
Alexis Covey, ‘02, in Sacramento
“I attended the March on the Capitol last weekend with some friends and my father. It really was a joyful and uplifting experience. I felt the first stirrings of hope when I saw just how many people turned out, and that feeling increased when I realized that the counter-protesters (that) I didn’t realize I was dreading never appeared. But mostly I felt proud to march with my dad, (former chemistry teacher Michael). Dad isn’t a highly vocal person – he’s generally very polite and quiet. And while I knew he (supported) everything the March stands for – equality, women’s rights, the environment, etc. – I was pleasantly surprised that he wanted to express that support in such an extroverted manner. A little surprised, but mostly very proud to march next to such a wonderful dad.”
Lynsey Corbett, ‘99, in San Francisco
“I participated in the Women’s Rally and Candlelight March in San Francisco. Although the march was intended as a fight for women’s rights, it was also mostly an anti-Trump rally. I have participated in a few anti-Trump protests since the election, so we had a number of signs with some rather ‘angry’ verbiage.
“The Women’s March was one of the most amazing things I (had) ever seen in my 13 years (of) living in San Francisco. We love our parades/festivals/rallies/protests, but I have never seen this many people take to Market Street, in the pouring rain, to fight for something so important. I saw men, women and children of all races and ages, even women in wheelchairs in front of a retirement home, participating. It made me feel hopeful to see so many people with the same opinions as myself and to see that they were willing to stand up and fight for what they believe.
“I have to admit, I live in a bit of a bubble in San Francisco and cannot name one person who either voted for Trump or did not march, which I am aware is not a realistic picture of the nation, but it made me feel a bit of relief to participate in such an important movement. Activism cannot end with Saturday’s march, and I look forward to what comes next.”
Michael Lewis, ‘09, in Tel Aviv, Israel
“I marched 10 time zones away from Sacramento in Tel Aviv, Israel, across from the American Embassy, where about 400 people rallied to support women’s rights and protest Trump’s presidency. According to an internet source I saw, it was one of four marches in the Middle East.
“Most of the people there were American citizens, some living permanently in Israel and others students here or simply tourists on vacation. We sang a number of Jewish songs about peace like ‘Lo Yisa Goy,’ ‘A nation shall not raise a sword against another nation, and they shall not learn war anymore’ and ‘Olam Hesed Yibaneh,’ ‘The world will be built from kindness/love,’ as well as ‘We Shall Overcome.’
“The speakers discussed a wide range of issues, including addressing rising Islamophobia and antisemitism in the Trump-era, wondering why the government has not responded to bomb threats called into JCCs (Jewish Community Centers) across the U.S. and pursuing equal justice for Palestinians and Israelis. I was surprised that one of the organizers led a cheer against moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as there was a division in the crowd on support for that specific issue.”
Jacob Frankel, ‘13, in St. Paul, Minnesota
“It was amazing! 90,000-100,000 people was the last estimate I saw. Really empowering to be around so many passionate people. Even though the temperature was below freezing and there was snow on the ground, there was no lack of energy!”
Colin Keiner, ‘11, in Portland, Oregon
“Things did not go according to plan.
“The estimates expected at most around 30,000 people in Portland’s march. Over 100,000 people showed up. For reference, Portland’s population is a hair over 600,000, and it’s being estimated that it was the largest public gathering/protest in both Portland and Oregon history from what I’ve read.
“The March started on the waterfront and was going to wind its way through downtown. I live downtown and managed to get to the waterfront. Somehow, I ended up in the middle of the crowds, pinned to a sidewalk. The police were holding up the start of the March from what I heard as information traveled by word of mouth to the back of the crowd. Unfortunately, the people in the back kept trying to march and move forward, leading to a very tight squeeze on those of us toward the middle.
“Although the forecast called for rain and people anticipated that it would rain, most did not expect it to be intermittent downpours. Even though I had my weatherproof winter jacket on, the combination of the hard rain and someone’s umbrella inverting next to me left me soaked straight through. Although the actual marching had only just begun, my section of the crowd was not moving, and rather than risk pneumonia, I knew I needed to get home and get out of my soaked clothes.
“Overall, the March was inspiring in its spirit, its size, and its humorous and defiant mood. As this was Portland, much of the crowd kept things weird. Although I feel like I didn’t truly participate in the March, I am glad and proud to have been there and certainly proud of my adopted city. Over 100,000 people, and not a single arrest was made compared with the inauguration protests which I also took part in, where crowds were eventually dispersed by rubber bullets and tear gas.”
Claire Bauman, ‘09, in Chicago
“I traveled downtown with my best friend to meet up with a larger group of friends. The red line (L train/subway) was packed. We had to let two trains pass before we could squeeze onto one. We had to hug each other at times for support as we were shoulder-to-shoulder with other passengers. But everyone was very nice, and we struck up a few conversations. We exited a few stops early and walked a few blocks to meet up with our friends. It took almost an hour and a half for what was usually a 30-minute ride.
“Downtown, we found our friends and walked through the street to Grant Park, where the rally was. Since we were on the late side, we didn’t get into the park itself or hear the speakers. In a sea of people, it was hard to tell where we were downtown. People would cheer as we heard helicopters pass overhead. We waited for a bit before news spread that the march was cancelled because of too many people. But, slowly, people began to move away from the park and began marching through the streets anyway. We finished the afternoon with massive burgers.
“Here are some other highlights:
“We found a group of young girls that had signs that said ‘#KCforPresident.’ One of my friends asked who was KC, and she was pointed out. We smiled and clapped for the girl, cheering ‘KC! KC! KC!’ The little girl beamed!
“There were quite a few Star Wars posters, including ones with the Resistance symbol and ones quoting ‘Rebellions are built on hope,’ and ‘A woman’s place is in the resistance.’ Someone else had a sign with the Carrie Fisher quote, ‘Take your broken heart and make it into art,’ which Meryl Streep quoted in her Golden Globes speech.
“We passed a measly three Trump supporters. They were white men.
“An unidentified man in the march, definitely a supporter, was using a megaphone. Some of the women in my group started a chant, ‘Give a woman the mic!’
“There were babies wearing pussyhats! Too. Cute.
“Another sign I loved: ‘Thou Shalt Not Mess With Women’s Reproductive Rights – Fallopians 1:21’
“In the aftermath of the March, many people I know posted on Facebook both celebrating the March and critiquing how it (could) be more inclusive and intersectional. I found these responses really useful. Overall, I look at the March as not only a way to come together and bring hope but also a way to reflect on and improve ourselves. I am so glad I was able to attend the March with so many friends and plan on attending as many other protests as I can.”
Lynsey Chediak, ‘10, in London
“As someone who is earning a master’s in gender inequality policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science right now, the March was extremely relevant!
“All in all, the March was extremely energizing and uplifting. I was grateful to see so many people, around 100,000, all out in the 32-degree
weather to support a multitude of causes. Posters ranged from supporting issues relating to a woman’s rights – right to her own reproductive system, right to equal pay, right to protection from sexual violence – to human rights abuses taking place at detention centers across the
globe to outright declarations to impeach Trump.
“I was surprised by how many men were there! I found the gender ratio to be quite equal. There were also a sizable number of children present.
“I am curious to see how the March encourages or provokes future political change—as that will, obviously, be the most important next step.”
Madison Galati, ‘12, in London
“The March started at the U.S. Embassy and ended at Trafalgar Square. It was an empowering experience to say the least.
“I was impressed and proud to have been surrounded not only by women, but also many men and families. It just goes to show the truly intersectional nature of feminism. It was not just a march for women. It was a march for equality for all genders, sexual orientations, races, etc.
“The March I attended was also not necessarily an anti-Trump rally, it was a march for equality based on the recent elections implications. It was a very peaceful rally with inspiring speakers. When the police notified us that we had brought London entirely to a halt, we celebrated in the power of our movement and then we peacefully dispersed as the police requested due to safety concerns.
“I also think it’s important to note that people attended the March for different reasons. Some were anti-Trump; some were marching specifically for women’s rights; some were marching in solidarity; some were marching for LGBTQ+; and there are many other reasons for marching. Feminism is intersectional so the March was more than just a march for women.”
Victoria Loustalot, ‘03, in New York City
“When I first learned of the protest, I asked my mom if she would march in Washington, D.C., with me. I thought it would be a meaningful thing we should do together. She agreed and flew out to New York City a few days ahead of time. Our plan was to drive down to D.C. together. Unfortunately, the day before, she was sick here in New York and didn’t feel up to traveling all the way to D.C. So, we decided to march in New York City instead.
“Initially, I was disappointed about the change in plans, but New York ended up being wonderful. It felt good to march in my home city with my neighbors and in Trump’s backyard, to boot.
“When I registered us for the NYC March, we were told to arrive at 2 p.m. The organizers were staggering people’s start times in an effort to manage the crowd. We arrived at the starting point, Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, at 47th Street and 2nd Avenue on the east side of Manhattan right about 2 p.m. on Saturday, and we did the entire loop south, west, and then back up north to 55th Street and 5th Avenue. The only major disappointment was that although the March was supposed to end in front of Trump’s apartment building at 57th Street and 5th Avenue, the police put up barricades two blocks south of his actual building. Still, we were able to get almost
within spitting distance! In total, the route was about a mile long, but it took us five hours to complete. We finished just a few minutes shy of 7 p.m.
“It was really less of a march and more of a shuffle! There were just so many people that it was impossible to take anything resembling a normal step. The NYC mayor’s office has estimated that more than 400,000 people participated. That’s a lot, of course, but overall it was a smaller crowd than it might have been, because so many New Yorkers did travel to D.C. That’s what almost everyone I know did.
“I’m not someone who likes crowds, and I prefer to always have a swift and speedy exit from all group activities. But this was different. The energy was incredible. People were serious and intent on their purpose, and there was justifiable anger and intense chants, but most everyone was positive in spirit and inclusive. There were a lot of families with young children, which felt particularly powerful and important.
“The signs were fantastic! I think my favorite was, ‘I know signs. I make the best signs. They’re terrific. Everyone agrees.’ But I also loved ‘From She to Shining She.’ One young white woman also carried a sign that read, ‘White Women Elected Trump,’ which clearly made a lot of our fellow marchers uncomfortable, but, you know what, good! It’s a true statement, and now is the time to get uncomfortable. I read that another woman in D.C. carried a similar sign. It was not an uncommon sentiment.
“The crowd was diverse, and it was heartening to see so many people from different backgrounds and experiences talking, sharing snacks, water and even signs. And for the first time since Nov. 8, I felt something approaching hope.”
Sarah Mancina, ‘11, in Madison, Wisconsin
“We marched down State Street, a major retail and restaurant street, from Library Mall, the start of (University of Wisconsin), to the state capitol building.
“The organizers and police expected 10,000 people would attend, but the final estimate was that around 75,000-100,000 people attended.
“The plan was to start marching at noon, but because of the excess of people, I did not start marching until around 1:30 p.m. Luckily the weather in Madison was unusually warm for this time of the year – around 45 degrees Fahrenheit – so waiting outside was not too bad.
“I ended up marching alone because my roommate, who was going to come with me was too tired. I ended up making friends with some women around me who were asking questions about my sign. My sign read, ‘Support Women and Gender Minorities in Science and Politics.’ I explained to them that I was a physics graduate student at UW-Madison and was involved in our Women and Gender Minorities in Physics (GMaWiP) group. I made the sign to remind people that political professions, just like many scientific professions, are still male dominated.
“While marching down State Street, we yelled chants such as ‘Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!’ I saw a mix of signs from anti-Trump signs to pro-choice signs to Black Lives Matter signs. A family in front of me held a sign that said ‘All lives matter’ and wore shirts that said ‘We are all one race, the human race’, which I found annoying since I view those messages as trying to erase and ignore the struggles that people of color face. Once we reached the Capitol, we found that people were giving speeches. However, I
could not see the speakers, and it was hard to hear them. I walked home after that.
“I learned that a protest of this size had occurred in Madison before when Governor Scott Walker outlawed mandatory union dues, which effectively destroyed all unions in Wisconsin. Similar to the presidential election, Walker had been up for recall in Wisconsin and was expected to lose, but surprisingly won. The support for Walker, just like the support for Trump, had seemed to come out of nowhere in Wisconsin. Since Wisconsin is a swing state, I think there are several residents who are very upset about the results of the election, which led to the high turnout of this march.
“Also, Madison is a very liberal city due to its young and academic population. Seventy percent of Dane County voters voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election, and 62.5 percent of democratic Dane County voters voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries.
“I also had several friends, including one of my roommates and a couple GMaWiP members, who rode on an overnight bus to Washington, D.C., to march there. I was invited, but I suffer from motion sickness and therefore do not enjoy 18-hour bus rides.”
Jessica Lewis, ‘03, in Washington, D.C.
“I marched in Washington, D.C., with friends from the area, including immigrants and non-citizens, as well as friends who came in from New York, Boston, and California, some for less than 24 hours.
“Numerous politicians participated, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, who was walking around with his dog, and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, whom I bumped into unexpectedly.
“The crowds were thick and energized, carrying signs decrying racism, sexism and xenophobia and calling for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and responsible governance. Many signs reminded Trump that ‘We are the majority.’ As we made our way toward the White House, my favorite chant was: ‘Welcome to your first day. We will not go away.’ The challenge now is continuing to mobilize.”
Maddy Judd, ’16, in Santa Barbara
“Since I had never been to a march of any kind, I had asked a couple friends at (University of Santa Barbara) if they wanted to go with me because things are generally more safe when you’re in a group, but no one wanted to get up early on a Saturday and make the 30-minute trek downtown. Nonetheless, I decided to attend the march by myself because I really wanted to hear the speakers and check out the scene.
“Since I didn’t really have any expectations going into the March, I wasn’t prepared for how emotional and empowering the event would be for me. I had quickly made a little sign the morning of the March, but I wasn’t sure if I would actually use it because it seemed somewhat inappropriate. But halfway through the March I pulled it out, and I was astonished when strangers, especially old men and women, would go out of their way to tell me that they were proud of me for showing my support and would ask to take pictures with me and my sign.
“I was also surprised by the police at the event. They were extremely kind, and would smile and cheer us on while they were also controlling the traffic.”
—Quotes compiled by Sonja Hansen