Author: Student Blogger, Anna Browdy
I had the immense privilege of participating in the Women’s March on NYC. Advocating for my political beliefs was an activity I had only engaged in only over Thanksgiving dinner, so the opportunity to march with hundreds of thousands of other people wanting to take a stand for what they believe in was one of the most empowering and surreal days of my life. I knew days before the march that I would want to write about my experience, but now that it’s over, I’m at a loss for words.
I could write about how every seat on the train filled up with pink hats and protest signs within two stops as I watched people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities befriend the person they found themselves sitting beside. Or how a little girl held up a sign that said “Fight Like a Girl, March Like a Woman” so her mother could take her picture, to which everyone applauded while she blushed and beamed from ear to ear.
I could write about how 48th Street was packed so thick I could barely breathe, and how after about half an hour without movement people who were more claustrophobic than I was began to quietly panic. I could write about how my friend and I finally maneuvered our way through the crowds only to realize that we had begun leading a group of what must have been over a thousand people down 49th Street while they cheered behind us, “This is what democracy looks like!”
I could write about how it took two hours to move two blocks on Fifth Avenue, and how throughout that time the torch was passed from “No justice, no peace,” to “Her body, her choice,” to “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here” to a call and response of “Stronger!” “Together!” I could write about how my shoulders are still aching from lifting my sign and how my vocal chords are still raw, or about the tears that streamed down my face when the organ at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church played not only the national anthem, but also “We Shall Overcome” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” while the whole crowd sang at the top of their lungs, and how on our way back to the train station we ran across a brass band, stagnant in the throngs of people, playing “When the Saints Go Marching in” and cheering as the nearby cops smiled and danced ever so subtly.
I could write about how deeply I understood the meaning of love and community for the strangers I stood shoulder to shoulder with, who I shouted and sang and cried with, and about how I understood rage and grief for the uncertain future of the country, for the people whose rights are in more imminent danger than my own, for the people who have protested before me, for the people who will undoubtedly have to protest after me, for the people unable to shout and sing and cry for what they believe in.
But I think it’s most important for me to write about how at the end of the day, eating dinner in Connecticut, the question was raised: How do we keep this energy going? I wish I had the answer. I have no agenda to preach of a step-by-step way to change the world for the better. What I believe in is meaningful action. And meaningful action doesn’t always feel safe, or comfortable, or easy. For some, this march felt like the beginning of a long four years, no matter which side of politics you tend to fall on. But for many who have been protesting since Trayvon Martin, since Roe v. Wade, since Vietnam, since Dr. King, this feels like another step towards progress.