The Women’s March on Washington is a movement started in response to the results after election day on Nov. 8. Now, it has grown into a national cause that will be drawing almost 200,000 people to join near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 21, the day after the presidential inauguration. “In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore.” The Women’s March on Washington national committee wrote in in their official mission statement. “We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.” Graphic by Katie Grace Upchurch.
By KATIE GRACE UPCHURCH – Web Master
Across the country, activists have made plans to gather near the U.S. capitol in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, the day after the presidential inauguration. Members of the Athens and Clarke Central High School communities are joining the act of solidarity in support of women everywhere.
A message from the Women’s March on Washington founders: “On January 21, 2017 we will unite in Washington, DC for the Women’s March on Washington. We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”
Following the events of election night on Nov. 8, activists immediately began organizing protests after the projection of Donald Trump, who has now been officially selected by the electoral college. The Women’s March on Washington (WMW) is a grassroots movement that has drawn almost 200,000 marchers from all across the country to join.
Participants will be arriving in Washington, D.C. by cars, buses, trains and planes on Jan. 21, and gathering near the U.S. Capitol to march and rally in solidarity to, “send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us,” according to the WMW founders’ official mission statement.
A post from the Women’s March on Washington Instagram, which features an illustration that is is a part of “#WMWArt” and is captioned with, “Yeah, we got this.”
Joining the WMW are Clarke Central High School students and members of the Athens community. Rachel Watkins, mother of CCHS freshman Anna Frances Julian, believes this is important for them to be a part of the WMW because it reinforces values of equality that they believe have been dismissed in the past year.
“I just thought that it would be a cool opportunity because I don’t know what to expect,” Watkins said. “But, I’m going with friends, and it’s going to be okay, and it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I thought it would be a super cool (way) to demonstrate to my daughter that (women’s) rights matter.”
CCHS freshman Beatrice Acheson, and her mother and sister will also be attending the march. Acheson says that being a part of the WMW means a lot to her in light of the events of the past year.
This map compiles locations of Women’s March on Washington chapters, sister marches and rallies and locations which buses are traveling from to join. Select the icon in the top left corner for more information and options.
“(Being in the WMW) was just an idea that turned into something bigger,” Acheson said. “(We realized) that we had the opportunity to be part of such a big event in history, something that would hopefully be really powerful and show that this is who we are, and we’re not scared, we’re just angry.”
Over the course of 2016, more and more came out about the dehumanizing and insulting things Donald Trump says about women. He has called them names such as “dogs”, “pigs” and slobs”, and in a video leaked by the Washington Post on Oct. 8, 2016, he was recorded saying vulgar things about the way that he treats women.
“As young women, we had a lot of hope before the election, it was going to be this really big thing and we were going to have a woman as president,” Acheson said. “It slowly went down(hill) from there.”
Freshman Anna Frances Julian agrees that this election has sent messages of hatred and believes that it has created an environment that is especially terrifying for women and minorities.
“Even if Trump doesn’t do anything, because he is an underqualified president, (his election) marks a change in how our society works. It validates the beliefs and the motives of people who are bigoted, who have huge positions of power and who are horrible to minorities,” Julian said. “I think that it not only validates them, but it encourages them.”
Clarke Middle School teacher Meghan McNeeley will also be attending the WMW, and she says the messages that Trump’s success has sent are very dangerous and harmful.
“I think the people who supported Trump are feeling like they might now have a get-out-of-jail-free card,” McNeeley said. “The number of hate crimes, racist attacks or messages (are) spiraling out of control. It seems as though there’s another attack or incident every time I turn on NPR or read the news. It’s really disturbing.”
McNeeley says that she think these things will have effects on her students, but believes that it is too early to know what that will mean in the long run.
“Right now, I think it’s too soon to tell (how students will be impacted, but) I know that they have already felt the ripple effect of the election,” McNeeley said. “The day after students were visibly upset – tears, words, actions and outbursts – but I’m not sure what the lasting impact will be, and I’m not comfortable speculating.”
McNeeley says that she has never been very political and has never publically protested anything, but the WMW is a way for her to prevent herself from becoming a bystander.
“I cannot be one of those people (who remain indifferent). I have to do what I can, when I can, where I can, however I can,” McNeeley said. “I hope (the WMW) makes people realize that Trump’s presidency is not going to be taken lightly,” McNeeley said.
Since the election, over 4,500 women have taken action and registered to run for political office, and Acheson says that even though this election didn’t turn out the way that she believes it should have, there were still some good things that came from it.
“I think, despite the results, it was really empowering that (senator Hillary Clinton) got really far, and just knowing (there is) someone who represents you, since you’ve never had that before (is comforting),” Acheson said. “It makes it a lot easier to be in this country.”
Acheson believes that through the march, there is a platform for people to stand up and speak their minds. With this platform, they can combat the negativity and hate that was perpetuated by Donald Trump and utilize the empowerment that came from Hillary Clinton.
A post from the Women’s March on Washington Instagram, which features an illustration from user @cdietzbrown. The illustration is is a part of “#WMWArt” and is captioned with, “You are loved. You are valued.”
“We’re here and we matter, and people who are not white matter, and it’s not necessarily just women, it’s everyone who isn’t represented by the person now running our country,” Acheson said, “(The WMW is) showing that his opinion and what he does will not define us.”