June 18, 2024

Students March Into the National Conversation

Marchers in front of San Francisco City Hall. Courtesy of Kodi Haney.

By Katie Simpson ’20

In the midst of another federal government shutdown, Gordon students studying across the country joined anniversary marches on Jan. 20, one year after both President Trump’s inauguration and the nationally organized women’s marches that accompanied it.

Freshmen Sarah Shoopman, Kate Yoder, and Morgan Primett attended the joint Boston/Cambridge march.  

Primett said, “My roommate really wanted to go, and she explained what it was and what it was about. I was interested in going but blew it off because there were problems like transportation that we had to figure out.”

“When we worked everything out I was so excited to be a part of something that was bigger than myself,” she continued.

Kodi Haney (‘18) attended this year’s march in San Francisco.

Haney said, “In the midst of the “Me Too” movement it is crucial for men to stand next to the bold women who have come forward to say enough is enough. Equality is something we all need to striving for and [by] attending the march I was able to stand in solidarity with the amazing women of this country and world.”

According to the Crowd Counting Consortium, a public project for measuring protests across the US on a variety of issues, the DC march drew between 50,000 and 750,000 people and the San Francisco march drew 50,000 to 60,000.

The group’s current estimate for the Boston/Cambridge march is up to 10,000 marchers.

Commenting on attendance numbers, Haney said, “ The most meaningful part of the march was its sheer size. After I completed the march down Market Street, I stopped for coffee and for over two hours there were floods of people marching down the street.”

He continued, “It was really encouraging to my friends and I to see so many people coming together all supporting a common cause: equality.”

Students were also encouraged by the diverse breadth of participants. “The most meaningful part was seeing all the supporters. I was not expecting there to be that many people there, especially the younger girls. They are the next generation, and it was so cool to see that they were already standing up for what they believed in,” said Primett.

Shoopman expressed a similar sentiment, adding, “I think it is so important for the young generations to see what we are fighting for and while they might not completely understand it they do understand that it is important.”

Yoder described an experience to which she explained the meaning of the word, “cis”, to an older marcher who had seen the word featured on a poster that read, “Support your sisters, not just your cis-ters!”

“I got her attention and kindly explained to her that “cis” refers to people who are the gender that they were assigned at birth and that the sign means that we also include transgender women when we march for women’s rights,” Yoder said.

“I thought that since she was older, that she would be offended by that concept, which was undoubtedly my mistake, because she nodded with a smile and said ‘Yes, transgender people.’”

The marches, many of which were organized by Women’s March Inc., encompassed a wide range of issues.

Women’s March Inc., which organized the DC marches this year and last, cites ending violence, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, worker’s right, civil rights, disability right, immigrant rights, and environmental issues as its “Unity Principles”.

However, the marches have not been unanimously embraced. Critics point out the historical racial insensitivity of the women’s movement and the movement’s failure to acknowledge that 53% of white women in the US voted for Donald Trump.

Not to mention the tensions within the movement, as demonstrated by the fault lines between Women’s March Inc. and similar activist organization March On.

While Women’s March Inc. has taken steps to organize public protests and exert centralized control over the movement, March On focuses on grassroots activism in rural areas and red states as well as electing Democrats to local office.

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