As We Go Marching, Marching (in Philadelphia)

in Opinion by

By Kate Hawthorne, Staff Writer

I ignored the TV and facebook streams all day on Jan. 20, 2017, as I tried to deny the fact that Donald J. Trump – entrepreneur “extraordinaire” – had just been inaugurated as the 45 president of the United States of America. I refused to read the transcript of his speech when it was put online. I frowned when I learned that my little sisters were forced to watch his speech in school. Whenever it became too much, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and continued on. When I went to bed that night, I set my alarm for 8 a.m. in preparation for the following day.

           When I woke up on Jan. 21, I could already feel the determination coursing through my veins and suffusing my body. I packed a bag with two books for the train ride into Philadelphia and a bunch of protein bars in case I, or anyone else, needed food, and grabbed the double-sided poster. While I was getting a quick breakfast, I met two friends who invited me to join them during the event. As I joined them in walking to the train station, I grew more excited and a little bit proud.

           The sight that greeted me at the train station only made both of those feelings grow. The amount of people that greeted me filled me with hope. The train was running late that day, which we viewed as both a good and bad sign—- it indicated that there was a good turnout for the march, but also that there might not be space for us on the train. When it finally arrived, our suspicion proved correct–the train was full. My friends and I had, luckily, already ordered an Uber that would drive us to Suburban Station. We would walk from there to the starting point at Logan Square.

           When we arrived at Suburban Station, the crowds walking to the starting location were already massive. As we joined the thronging crowds, that feeling of hope in me increased. If all of these people had an issue with the current president, maybe we could actually accomplish something. As we got closer to Logan Square, the crowds grew thicker and harder to maneuver around. I smiled as I watched people squeeze through.

And the signs! There were so many beautiful designs, wonderful quotes, and overall amazing signs in the crowd. There were multiple signs featuring “Hamilton” and “Star Wars.” There were even some hilarious “Hunger Games” signs. There were signs about global warming, about “draining the swamp,” about refugees, about immigration, about LGBTQIA+ rights, and a million other topics which all appeared in droves. My friends and I even made a game out of trying to pick our favorite. While we thought the kids’ signs were both amazing and simple (things like “Trump seems mean” had a certain pithiness and naivete to them), the best sign, hands-down, was either “OMG GOP WTF” or “I’m not usually a sign guy, but geez.”

           The march itself was more like a slow shuffle, but this did not detract from its importance. People from many walks of life turning up to show that they, too, were angry with Trump. While there, my friends and I met Smithies and Wellsley-ites and we felt proud at the turnout of the Seven Sisters in Philadelphia. When we finally reached the end of the march, while it was difficult to hear the actual rally (due to all of the people), the feeling of community and solidarity that permeated the crowd was enough.

Days later, I looked over articles about the turnout at Women’s Marches around the world. The numbers were shocking. While Philadelphia was by no means the largest turnout, it was still a sizable 50,000 people. Trump’s inaugural crowd was larger, approximately 160,000, and New York boasted about 250,000 people. In Washington D.C., at the heart of the march, an estimated 500,000 people showed up. According to current estimates, around the world 4 million people marched to show Trump that we are united in our desire for a better future. While the coming weeks may test our resolve, I know that I will continue marching and trying to show my support for all of the people that may be hurt by his actions.


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