Following the inauguration of President Donald Trump, demonstrators rallied together on Saturday to participate in Women’s Marches across the USA and the world. Originating as a simple Facebook post after President Trump’s election, the Women’s Marches drew crowds of thousands both in Washington, D.C. and in the reported 673 affiliated marches around the world, including NJIT students.
“The moment that I read about the Women’s March on Washington…I knew that I would do absolutely anything to go. The march stood for everything I believe in,” Emily Cort, a sophomore Mechanical Engineering major said of her decision to participate in the march. “Marching in solidarity with people who share these ideals was a very empowering and comforting feeling.”
According to the website, the Women’s Marches were held to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human’s rights.”
Marchers took to the streets in planned routes throughout their respective cities donned in costumes, wielding signs, and were able to listen to speeches from activists and celebrities. Featured speakers in Washington, D.C. included activist Gloria Steinem and actress Scarlett Johansson, while the Women’s March in LA featured the likes of Soraya Deen, founder of the Muslim Women Speakers Movement, and Rowan Blanchard, teen actress.
Clarissa Van Ryzin, a sophomore Architecture student, said that she was inspired to march because of her family’s involvement in the cause, including her 87-year-old grandmother. Beyond the star-studded attendance to the march, the highlight of her day was the “feeling of overwhelming support that followed you wherever you went that day and the days around it. Even when driving down and stopping at rest stops, we saw people going to the march and felt empowered and safe.”
There were no arrests made connected to the Women’s March on Washington or affiliated “sister marches”. However, the demonstrations did not go without controversy, prompting issues with those who clashed with the march’s pro-choice message as well as with President Trump’s administration.
Days before the Women’s March on Washington was slated to happen, the New Wave Feminists were removed as a sponsor due to their views on abortion. The New Wave Feminists are pro-life, which clashes with the pro-choice stance the Women’s March has stated in their Unity Principles. The removal of the New Wave Feminists from the sponsor list caused a mixed bag of emotions amongst those who planned on marching but also take a pro-life stance on abortion.
In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, a spokesperson for the New Wave Feminists stated, “It appears that the [Women’s March] only wants to include a ‘diverse’ array of women who think exactly like them.” Despite the disagreement on this particular view, however, many pro-life women still appeared for the march. Herndon-De La Rosa continued, “…we will not be deterred. On the 21st, we march.”
President Trump remained silent on the day of the march, but took to Twitter the following day to weigh in on the march, stating, “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly”.
This statement came after President Trump’s accusation that the media underreported the attendance to his swearing-in ceremony, as well as the White House press secretary’s claims that the ceremony drew “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” Crowd counting experts report that the Women’s March on Washington drew a crowd about three times larger than the number of attendees at President Trump’s inauguration just the day before.
The primary march that occurred in Washington, D.C. is said to have been the largest inauguration-related march in U.S. History, even potentially claiming the title of “largest political demonstration the US capital has ever seen”, according to Business Insider.
In spite of the controversy surrounding the March, many of those who attended left feeling empowered by the protest. “The marches were about much more than protesting Trump,” stated Megan Rottkamp, a sophomore Computer Science major who attended the March on Washington. “It is really amazing that so many women and men all around the world support one another and are fighting to make global change [to] ensure that everyone’s voice will finally be heard.”