In celebration of Women’s History month, I have decided to submit an article that I wrote after going to the 2017 women’s march on Washington in Birmingham. I think that the Women’s marches that occurred earlier this year will be remembered during March in many years to come.
Last Saturday I attended the Women’s march on Birmingham. My mom had made a sign; she was the one who really convinced me to go. It (the sign) was quite well made, with letters printed from vinyl spelling out “WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS” proudly across the colorful poster board She forgot to cut the apostrophe out of vinyl, so we had to add it later with a ballpoint pen. I don’t think anyone noticed, though.
5,000. That was the estimated number of people who came. 10,000 feet marching. I didn’t expect so many people to march. In fact, I was considerably skeptical about the whole thing at first. I thought,” What difference can it make?” and “If I don’t go, will it really matter?” But, the experience of walking alongside thousands of fellow humans all united for a common cause (as millions did so around our country) was what really changed my mind.
I arrived with my parents in my dad’s black Ford about 30 minutes before the speakers were scheduled to take the stage. We had to park in a lot a few blocks away from Kelly Ingram park, on account of the tremendous number of cars that had poured in for the sole purpose of transporting people to the march. That’s why I wasn’t that upset that we had to park in a less convenient spot, as I knew that the lack of parking spaces meant that more people were getting out and doing something.
As we paid our parking fee, kind people spoke to us as if we were their best friends. They asked us if we were going to the march, and were so neighborly and cordial. That was my first experience with the genuine love that was radiating from everyone at the march, heard through confident footsteps and wide, welcoming smiles and echoing throughout the city. I think that feeling may have echoed throughout the entire country that day.
After paying for parking we strode to where everyone was collecting, seeing others on the streets with signs in hand doing the same.
Once we reached out destination I finally realized the magnitude of this gathering. A flock of activists being active, all happily conversing and anticipating the march. I could feel the energy, poetic and passionate, the excitement in the air. As I walked around, waving hello to faces I recognized, a teen girl about my age high fived me. Did I wonder why, why this friendly display of comradery? Maybe it was the rainbow I had painted (with watered down eyeshadow) across my cheek, or the “youth pride” button I had pinned to my chest. Maybe it was that I was just there. Yes, I think it was the latter.
The speakers spoke for a relatively long time, once they finally called everyone to attention. The crowd was large and impatient for the march to start, hoisting up their signs in recognition of words or phrases they signified with. Some songs were sung, but there was a silent consensus among the group that we all just wanted to start marching.
Finally, I was time to march. I was careful not to lose my parents in the crowd as it shifted to facing toward the road and made its way to the march’s starting point. The mass was dense, so much so that it was hard for me to see exactly where we were heading but I shuffled along with everyone else nevertheless. Then my foot stepped onto the concrete road as my hand was curled, fist like around my sign, and I began to march.
The march was powerful. It was lively, colorful, happy, and invigorating. It was a brilliant display of human unity. I knew this right as I stepped into Kelly Ingram park when all my skepticism left me. We flew through the streets, birds in motion, out vibrant wings pigmented with the hues of our hearts. It was utterly massive. As I walked down one street I could see another portion of the group marching down another. We were a chain, curling and weaving around streets and parks and parking lots. Everyone joined together. Strong. We chanted and sang, those without signs held up fists, all our voices melting into one. Being part of this march really changed my viewpoints that I had previously had. I don’t wonder if I can make a difference anymore. No, I tell myself I must.