By Cayla Clements, Managing Editor
On January 21, 2017, one million people participated in the Women’s March on Washington with the goal to express the importance of the protection of the rights, safety, health and families of America, as well as to demonstrate the greatest strength of the United States: our vibrant and diverse communities.
This grassroots effort occurred one day after the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, a man who has been attributed by his detractors as being racist, fascist, bigoted and misogynistic.
Various “Sister Marches” occurred in other large cities across the United States such as Los Angeles and New York City. A march also occurred in Seneca Falls, New York, where the Women’s Rights Movement first began. However, there were Women’s Marches worldwide that spanned all seven continents, including Antarctica. In total, 5 million people marched and gathered in solidarity with the same mission to make their voices heard.
In North Carolina, there were over a dozen Sister Marches, including a gathering in Winston Salem. Leadership coach of The Connecting Force, Ana Tampanna, helped organize the Winston Salem gathering, which she described as an “experience of holy activism,” and also participated in the Women’s March on Washington.
Tampanna, like many of the participants in the Women’s March, were particularly concerned with showing activism for women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, diversity, people with disabilities and the environment. Hattie Pass, a junior at Reynolds, also went to the Women’s March on Washington, and described the experience “like being a part of a really huge family.”
Before the actual march occurred, there was a rally lasting five hours with various speakers, including high profile celebrities such as America Ferrera, Michael Moore and Scarlett Johansson. Pass was astonished by the amount of people already present.
“It was so powerful to be one tiny person in a sea of hundreds of thousands of people,” Pass said. “And even more amazing to see that that many people are just as passionate about the same things that I am.”
While the Women’s March was both inspiring and colossal, many agree that it most importantly proved the strong power of women uniting together. The Women’s March on Washington, which was organized completely by women was the Metro’s second-busiest day in history with one million recorded entries, trailing President Obama’s record-setting 2009 inauguration by only 100,000 people, but greatly, and controversially, surpassing the 600,000 trips made for President Trump’s inauguration the previous day.
Still, while the initial impact of the Women’s Marches are known, the lasting impact of the Women’s Marches on the coming years is unknown.
“On the way back on the bus you just don’t know what the impact is,” Tampanna said.
However, Tampanna emphasizes the importance that even the smallest of actions have, and how those small actions can help the overall cause.
“Anyone that doubts if their effort will make a difference, needs to remember what it’s like to be in bed with a mosquito,” Tampanna said. “A tiny little mosquito can absolutely make a huge difference in your sleep. So I’m going to continue contributing in a small way that has a rippling effect.”
Likewise, Pass is sure that all people could make a difference in their country, regardless of age.
“Even though I’m not old enough to vote, I can still make a difference in the world and make my voice heard,” Pass said. “And going to a march is a perfect opportunity to do that.”
Tampanna’s plan to send postcards, make phone calls and keep track of the legislature going through Congress is encouraged. In fact, following the Women’s March, the organizers created a campaign, “10 Actions 100 Days,” where action will be taken on an issue those involved all care about every 10 days for 100 days.
Regardless of political views, the Women’s March on Washington’s goal was not to cause political chaos, but to bring awareness of gender equality in a world where in most places it doesn’t exist, including the United States to an extent.
“Anybody that says a march doesn’t make a difference isn’t looking at history,” said Tampanna.
In a march that originally expected approximately 200,000 people to attend, the Women’s March on Washington surpassed expectations, but only time will tell if it will become as seminal as The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Nevertheless, The Women’s March on Washington and the other various marches across the United States and world, exhibited the spirit of our Nation, as well as its divide.
Photo from SFGate