By Megan Martin
In the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, around four million people –from all seven continents– participated in Women’s Marches on Jan. 21 to protest the ideologies and policies Trump’s administration stands for. AHS students attended many different sister marches within the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Oakland.
AHS has a majority of liberal students, many of whom are outraged that Donald Trump is now president and will be pushing policy that reflects his ideology. As a result, students have taken it upon themselves to take a stand and march for what they believe is right. Senior Katie Ly was a national youth ambassador for the women’s march, senior Calum McLaren was a peace ambassador at the march in Oakland, and freshman Sadie Cevallos attended the march on Washington D.C.
Ly discovered the opportunity to be a youth ambassador while looking on the Women’s marches website during winter break. She filled out the application, and a week or two later she was sent a packet saying that she was accepted.
“We got our acceptances 10 days before our march, so basically they were giving us assignments for 10 days of action,” said Ly. Each day the youth ambassadors publicized on social media about the march or talked about why they planned to march. In addition, they talked to other youth and tried to get them on board and attend the march. “It was mainly about publicity and social media and ensuring that we can get the word out to our communities as there were about 200 sister marches,” said Ly.
Ly marched for social justice and for all the women who could not attend the march. “I marched for people who can’t, for people who are too afraid to advocate publicly for their ideas in fear that they will be looked down upon in society. I marched because I wanted to be a representative of all the LGBTQ young women of color who couldn’t be there,” said Ly.
“It is just super important to me because a lot of people think that the march was just for women, it was just for only women could go, that men couldn’t, but I thought it was an intersectional event,” said Ly. “It was just in celebration of human rights. And even though it did have emphasis on women’s rights it was just a great symbol of unity that I just wanted to be a part of the change.”
Ly did not expect the huge turnout, and it amazed her to see. She doesn’t normally attend a lot of marches, but this one felt especially uniting and empowering. “There was so many people of all backgrounds, cultures, religions, races, and genders. I was marching with people who had the same vision of unity, the same vision of love of equality, of everything I stand for, it was awesome,” said Ly.
Her favorite part of the march were the chants because of how fired up and unified they got the crowds to be. The chant Ly and her friends started was “‘There ain’t no power like the power of the people so the power of the people don’t stop’ and then after you say that people say ‘say what’.”
Ly hopes that this march will spark a flame in people to continue their advocacy for human rights. “I hope this was a motivational event where they feel the need to continue attending direct actions to hopefully make change in the future for the better of our society instead of this being one day and that’s it,” said Ly.
“We are going to need that fire, we are going to need that spark, and I hope people don’t stop,” said Ly.
McLaren wanted to be a peace ambassador at the women’s march to prove that as a teenage boy he cares about women’s rights. In addition, he wanted to prevent violence from inciting within the women’s march that would detract away from the message the march wanted to promote.
“Every once in awhile you will hear problems break out and if violence does occur then I think the entire movement or purpose of something is lost,” said McLaren. “You lose focus of the message, you lose focus of the march. And all the attention goes to the violence that happens.”
In addition, McLaren wanted to march because there has been a large emphasis on standing up for the rights of marginalized groups in our community, especially with the words and actions being promoted by the political party in power right now. “As long as there are people there to say no we need to move forward, we will keep moving forward,” said McLaren.
His role as a peace ambassador was leading the entire march and forming a wedge so the lead banner could walk through the streets safely. During the march he made sure that it was not slowed down, and after the march he was directing everyone to the rally and keeping a calm presence.
McLaren explains leading this march as a once in a lifetime experience. “Seeing just the amount of support that people can give to something that they care about is just awesome. You just look back at the wave of people and you are just standing back in disbelief in how many people could just amass,” said McLaren.
Some of his favorite moments were a lot of small but significant ones throughout the duration of the march. This includes helping someone fix their float and directing a band that was playing to the rally. “We just got the band to follow us and looking behind us we saw everyone following the band. We got like at least a 1,000 people moving behind us just from taking action. That was really cool to show that we are all working together,” said McLaren.
As a man at the women’s march, McLaren felt that it is important to have men fighting for gender equality. He said that men have certain privileges that sometimes go unnoticed to them, and in participating in the women’s march they can be exposed to the issues women face and learn how to change them. “This is a march for equality. If there are only 50% fighting for equality that doesn’t really happen, you need a full effort,” said McLaren.
Finally, Cevallos attended the women’s march on Washington DC. She knew that is was one of the largest marches in the country, and she wanted to be close to Donald Trump. She thought it was very special to know that she was making history being a part of such a large and united movement towards equality. “I feel like I was making the biggest impact by going there and that it was the most important location,” said Cevallos.
The reason she marched in the first place stems from her immediate emotional reaction to the nomination and election of Donald Trump. The new administration and the policies they support made her rethink how the society works, especially as a teenage girl who faces prejudice based on her gender in her daily life. Her day to day experiences as a woman was the catalyst for her participation in this march.
“I’ve been really shaken up from Donald Trump’s election and I wanted to go so that I could speak my voice and be there with people that felt the same way as me,” said Cevallos.
Cevallos describes the environment of DC during the march as supportive, strong, happy and positive. A lot of times protests can be hateful and center around anger, but “I felt like this vibe was actually more happy and just more people uniting, even though there were bad things going on they were all feeling proud of who they were and having people united,” said Cevallos.
At the actual march, the most prevalent word Cevallos used to describe it was crowded. There were more than a million people so the march ended up being very short because it was hard to find a route as everything was getting blocked off. At the end, they all went to a piece of grass in front of the White House. “It was cool to see everyone come together at the end at this one location because it was all over the place and then we all met up at then end,” said Cevallos.
Cevallos hopes that these marches around the world bring more awareness and that people are “less afraid to speak their voice and more open to saying what they believe in and think about.”