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Celebrating Democracy: The Day Millions Dared to Imagine Better

Aman Singh

27.01.17

On January 21, 2017, millions dared to imagine better.

 People of all ages, genders and colors poured onto the streets to join the Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches across the world. Those millions included many of us at Futerra, who went with our banners, placards and pink kitten hats to gatherings in our home cities.

Some marched to demand gender equality. Others marched to make a simple statement – that they appreciated and loved their neighbors and friends irrespective of gender, religion or sexual preference. Others yet marched to emphasize that love trumps hate. Always.

For those of us who marched, it felt natural, important, even irresistible to make our voices heard. But the reasons for marching have not always been clear to others – and acknowledge, quite rightly, that one march alone cannot make all the difference we need.

So we asked our team: Why did you march? What did it mean to you? And what will you do next to build on the energy, commitment and collective outpouring of imagination of those few hours?

Here’s what they said:

Unknown-6
… we marched for the next generation
“My daughter, who’s 10, has been learning about the bill of rights at school in New York City. When she heard about the march, she was excited to exercise her right to assemble freely. “Women’s rights are human rights,” she wrote on a poster for her classroom wall, and arranged a women’s march poster-making playdate with her classmates. So assemble freely we did – in New York so my kids could be part of it. I’ve never seen New York like that….up and down Second Avenue and across all the streets in the 40s, as far as the eye could see, people were packed in, waving signs, cheering, chanting and generally marveling at what was happening around them. When I was working on a climate campaign targeting politicians around the UN climate talks in 2009, one insight stuck with me. “No change will happen unless the people demand it”, an expert I interviewed told me.  That is the essence, really, of democracy. And on Saturday, with the largest demonstration in U.S. history, we the people, demanded change – loudly and early. I’m really glad my kids were there to see it.”
– Freya Williams, NYC

 

Unknown-5
…we marched because we believe in We The People
“It was nothing shy of exhilarating to see so many women, men and children of every color and creed, march all day and into the dark, showing what American democracy looks like.  What started out as an opportunity to stand up for women’s rights and equality quickly snowballed into an opportunity to stand up the rights of LGBT, immigrants, minorities, and issues such as climate change. The incredible sense of solidarity refocused many of us on the need to sustain our political involvement into the future.”

“I have committed to making a series of actions through swingleft.org to elect a new representative in my local hometown district in Arizona.”
– Mia Overall, NYC

 

Unknown-1
“I marched in D.C. because I wanted the administration to know that a majority of voters do not support their agenda. We needed a show of force to send a message that we are watching and we will not take a dismantling of our civil liberties and environmental protections lying down…next I’ll be watching, speaking up and marching for big environmental initiatives like the 2017 People’s Climate March in April.”
– Mike Noel, NYC

 

Unknown-3
“I met people who had traveled from Oregon and as far as Argentina to be in D.C. for the Women’s march. In a time the news focused on how divided this country is, it was a reminder of how united people around the world actually are. That despite our differences, we can all agree on common decency and stand for equality in the face of its eminent threat. I spoke with people from other countries who said that this is so important because the U.S. is a beacon for hope in the future, an indicator for the tone of the world, and what are we all to do as global citizens.”
Hannah Phang, NYC

 

2017-01-21-PHOTO-00000271
…we marched for gender equality
“One of the main reasons I marched is because I am inexpressibly sad that I probably won’t live to see power shared equally between genders. I also marched because abortion is still illegal in Ireland. I marched because I am noticeably fearful when I’m surrounded only by men in a public space. I marched because I have been hired in the past only based on my gender (they needed to improve the company image) and all my bosses bar one have been male. I marched because I still find myself explaining what feminism means in a non-threatening way when a lot of people think we’ve won that debate. I marched because being feminine is still a bad thing for both men and women. I marched because I don’t want to lighten up or see the funny side or take it as a compliment. I marched because I have it so much better than most and still don’t feel like I have anywhere near enough. I marched because I don’t want to be self-righteous, I just want to be equal.”

“I will channel this anger into supporting every woman everywhere with any means I have. I am determined to keep learning about women’s movements all over the world from Repeal and My Stealthy Freedom to Daughters of Eve.”
– Lila Hamilton, London

 

… we marched to show solidarity
“I am both a serial and reluctant marcher, cycling through the machinations of ‘what will this achieve anyway?’ every time, though doing so feels disrespectful to the Martin Luther King, to the Suffragettes, to Gandhi’s Salt March. So I’ve decided that regardless of the outcome, marching is signals my solidarity with others. And that’s why I marched on Saturday to signal to women everywhere – from trans women, to women of colour to women whose suffering my relative comfort depends on – that I am with them. Progress can halt and at times reverse, but as MLK put it ‘change does not roll on in the winds of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle’. And that struggle is ours to share and to push forward.”
Shruti Choudhary, London

“I marched to show the world that we who stand up for human rights, equality, and freedom for everyone to be who they are, are the majority. We will not accept racism and bigotry. It was an absolutely beautiful experience. The whole thing was colorful, bursting with hope and fighting spirit. It was an alternative to stupidity! Now we must show, in social media and in real life, that love truly trumps hate.”
Jerker Thorsell, Stockholm

 

Unknown
“As a white, cisgender and healthy woman living in the U.K., I acknowledge that I am privileged and will not be in the first line of Trump’s policies which is why I marched to show my support to the millions of people who will directly be affected by them. The Women’s March was also way of showing our politicians in power that we will not accept divisive and hateful talk… I have never felt so inspired, having always been more of a slacktivist – mostly because as a Millennial, I have deep faith in the power of digital and social media. This march made me want to do more: join an (inclusive) organisation, volunteer my time, and continue to read and write about the things that revolt me.”
Manon Thomas, London

 

… we marched because we must fight for progress
“For most of my lifetime, women’s rights – and those of other minorities – have steadily progressed and I assumed they would continue to do so forever. Over the past few years, I’ve begun to understand that this is not always the case; that my generation may have to fight all over again for the freedoms we take for granted. On Saturday, I marched for the first time ever, to stand up and be counted for my values. I wasn’t expecting the rush of hope I felt when I realised that thousands upon thousands of others are prepared to do the same.”

“Now that the march is over, I’m beginning to see my participation as a declaration of intent. It’s easy to allow the erosion of rights to become something you slowly get used to – something that normalises itself over time. I won’t let it. I will support, campaign and fight for my rights and those of others. And I will do it because I marched.”
– Sarah Holloway, London

 

Unknown-4
“It’s incredible that the emotion ignited in me on January 20, 2017 didn’t happen to just me. It happened to millions. Growing up in England, I have always kept my political views to myself, avoiding conflict and never wanting to offend a peer. This all changed the night of November 8, 2016. That night I took to Twitter and in January, I took to peaceful marching. Because each person counted that day. There was no electoral college to diffuse the quantity of people who stood for what they believed in, what they were marching for, and the impact they could have together. As we walked together, we smiled at each other. We were kind to each other. We were stronger together.”
– Cara Parish, NYC

 

 … we marched for inspiration and power
“As a Swedish American Black and White woman, I marched with pride to remind my community and myself that inclusion, diversity and equality make us stronger. We’re going to need that strength the coming four years. From marching I gained a sense of belonging from a really empowering community. My social media feed was filled with much-needed positivity and people power. I hope and believe that this global digital engagement will be a starting point for a new badass change-making movement. I will continue to read and share real news, set up monthly donations to Planet Parenthood and NPR, and think about a quote I heard during a speech on Saturday: “Hope is not driven by fear, it’s driven by a sense of justice.”
Lydia Kellam, Stockholm

Did you march on January 21? What did the march mean to you? And what will you do next?

Tell us below!

Posted by Aman Singh

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