The January 21, 2017 March on Lansing marked my first experience protesting. I showed up without a sign, without a hat, and without a clue what to expect. I worried I’d feel out of place, that there’d be chanting and I wouldn’t know the words, that I’d be questioned about my motives and wouldn’t have a strong enough political education to know how to explain what I was doing there — none of that happened.
A satellite of the Women’s March in D.C., the March on Lansing drew an estimated crowd of roughly 8,000 attendants. From the outside, this crowd didn’t exactly present a unified front. There were signs calling for Trump’s impeachment, action on climate change, access to birth control, the protection of Roe v. Wade, and a general plea for respecting diversity. They championed issues held dear by Michiganders, like the dismissal of Betsy DeVos as Trump’s pick for education secretary, as we know first hand the damage she can do to the education system. Some of them took comic jabs at the president’s Twitter ravings and his apparent lack of basic human decency.
The reasons we came together last Saturday were as varied as the individuals marching. There was one common thread, however, and that was the mood. If I had to put a word on the emotion in the crowd it would be “love.” I’ve never been in a crowd that large without being shoved as people tried to move, without feeling infinitesimally small. This crowd was exceptionally polite and even in the masses I somehow felt like I mattered.
If the ideals of the march had to be condensed into one goal, I think it’s best stated by the Women’s March Mission & Vision:
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
I left the march feeling empowered, giddy on the hope of a future that respects people of every race, religion, disability status, sexual orientation, immigrant status, and gender.
But in the wake of it all, we’re left with a question: Now what?
The answer is nuanced and layered in ways other people can spell out better than I, but here’s the bottom line. We have to vote. The Michigan gubernatorial elections are in the fall of 2018 and we have the opportunity to elect a new governor, as well as seats in the Senate and House. Every election matters, not just the heavily-publicized presidential races.
We have the numbers. We have the momentum. We have to vote.
Tell me about your protest experiences & thoughts on the Women’s March below! ↓