Recapping the annual NYC Women's March

 Thousands of people wearing “pussy hats,” shouting chants and carrying witty posters stretched as far as the eye could see, filling what felt like every block in New York City for the annual Women's March. (Armana Islam/The Daily Campus)

Thousands of people wearing “pussy hats,” shouting chants and carrying witty posters stretched as far as the eye could see, filling what felt like every block in New York City for the annual Women's March. (Armana Islam/The Daily Campus)

Daily Campus reporters took to the streets on Saturday and took part in women’s marches around the region. Here are their experiences.

Armana Islam

This past Saturday, I joined over a thousand people—of every race, religion, gender identity, age and sexuality—united in front of the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford for the second annual Women’s March. The nationwide march also took place in Boston, Providence, New York and other major cities, as well as state capitals throughout the country. After attending the march in New York last year, my desire to be surrounded by people fighting for equality was satisfied with the march right here in my home state.

The Connecticut March started in front of the Corning Fountain in Hartford and had the participants march to the Capitol, where the organizers of the march hosted a plethora of speakers, including people in state offices, involved members of various activism groups and more. This year’s march focused on the power of women in the polls and in the office, continuing last year’s message of giving women a voice. Under this overall message, the march had several sections of its mission, which included a focus on women of color, gender violence, the environment and many others. The speakers and the rally in front of the Capitol made my experience from New York seem less than, since I had only attended the march. That, of course, was empowering and incredible, due to the vast number of people in a huge city. However, the speakers I heard in Hartford were incredible and made the overall experience a little more meaningful to me.

The rally opened with introductions and one of the first speakers, state representative Robyn Porter, set the mood of inclusion in feminism by addressing women of color and their feelings of exclusion in the women’s march.

“It’s time for a reckoning and a change. I want to know, can we start over and clear the air? I sure hope so,” Porter said, “because it’s the only way we’re going to win.”

Porter encouraged people to use their privilege to empower and support others. She stressed the importance of including women of color in the fight, since women of color have supported others in their struggles.

Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman also spoke at the march, focusing heavily on how it is important to keep fighting through all the problems people have faced. Since the last march, political ordeals conflicted with fundamental ideas of human rights and equality, from shootings to travel bans, from silenced assault victims to lack of maternal healthcare and everything in between, the country has pushed through a variety of problems.

"We knew 2017 was going to be a tough year and it sure was,” Wyman said. “We stood up and fought and we’re here today still standing, still fighting. Together, we are the strong. We are the fierce. We are the relentless, and we’re fighting for justice. And eventually, we’re going to win that battle.” As the rally continued, that rang through my head and I believed it more and more.

Other speakers spoke on bringing power to the polls, building off of Porter’s topic of inclusion. There were various speakers that spoke on the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community, people of color and women overall. As each speaker came and left, I felt more empowered. They gave me chills; their words were dripping with passion, even anger, driven by the power of change.

Perhaps what left me feeling this way was the diversity of the speakers and the audience. People that spoke had different backgrounds, different stories and different perspectives that opened my eyes to all sides of equality. There were speakers younger and older than me, different races than me, different religions than me, different orientations and identities than me. Yet, there were speakers that were just like me. The speakers reminded me that there are people who are similar to me and people who are not, but we can stand together for a cause, empowering one another to strengthen the movement. When I was standing there in this huge crowd, chanting “The people united will never be divided,” I felt it. With time, I know that the unity, the voices and the persistence of the people will bring the change that we all need.

I took a bunch of pictures during the march, here’s a link: https://vsco.co/armanaislam/journal/womens-march-2018

 

Gabriella DeBenedictis

Thousands of people wearing “pussy hats,” shouting chants and carrying witty posters stretched as far as the eye could see, filling what felt like every block in New York City.

My best friend Casey and I were constantly standing on our toes and craning our necks to take in as much of the 2018 NYC Women’s March as we possibly could. We had attended last year’s Hartford rally, but this year decided to trek all the way to the city in hopes of being part of one of the country’s largest demonstrations.

The train I took into the city was filled almost entirely with march attendees, as was Grand Central Station. While walking to Columbus Circle- where the march was taking place- I encountered several fellow marchers and began to get an understanding of just how massive the demonstration was going to be.

The crowds thickened as Casey and I got closer to its official starting point. Eventually, we were boxed in, surrounded by people on all sides. A senior advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio estimated that 200,000 protesters descended on the city.

Though the march was by no means calm, it was definitely peaceful. It felt less like an angry, rage-filled attack on President Trump and more of an empowering, inspiring demonstration where people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations were supporting each other.

The posters ranged from the inspirational to the matter-of-fact to the humorous. Some of my personal favorites included “it’s been a s***hole year but we’re still here” (referring to Trump’s vulgar language used to describe African countries), “I am a woman, I am a person with disabilities, I am Chinese, I am American, I belong here” and ones that read “Time’s Up” and “Me Too” (referring to the nationwide reckoning of sexual harassment and assault).

Several demonstrators dressed specifically for the occasion, either as suffragettes or in the outfits depicted in The Handmaid’s Tale. Others wore t-shirts commemorating the march.

There was an overwhelming sense of camaraderie, a feeling like everyone understood and was supportive of one another.

“We’re all marching towards the same thing,” Women's March co-organizer Audra Heinrichs told Vox. “Whatever we want to call ourselves, whatever group we’re aligning with, whoever we showed up here with today, it doesn’t ultimately matter.”

While marching, Casey and I struck up conversation with some of the people surrounding us. We even met a woman who told us she got her Masters’ in human development and family studies at UConn and had worked as a teaching assistant for one of Casey’s former professors.

Scattered throughout the crowd were counter-protesters wearing Make America Great Again hats and t-shirts that read things like “gays for Trump.” I witnessed a couple of small incidents of tension between the two groups, but for the most part we respected their first amendment right to protest and they respected ours.

When the march was winding down, Casey and I noticed posters piling up on the streets. We hadn’t made posters ourselves, but after making sure they were going to be discarded anyway, ended up taking one each from the piles.

Casey thought it was a nice way to come full circle- two women (or men) had spent time making posters and marched with them at the event, then we gave them longevity by hanging them in our dorm rooms.

The 2018 NYC Women’s March was by far the most inspiring and amazing event I’ve ever attended. It was very encouraging to see people from all walks of life coming together for a common cause.

Women’s March co-organizer Erycka Montoya put it best when she said the message of the day was “that we’re still here, that we’re not going anywhere.”


Armana Islam is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at armana.islam@uconn.edu.

Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.