Grass-roots organizing draws out millions across the country in solidarity 

Last Saturday, the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, thousands of people, including Trinity students, marched in a demonstration against the new administration.

Grace Cline, first year, described the march as a way to bring like-minded people together in advocacy for minority groups.

“I think it’s just a gathering of people coming together to protest the president, to be forward, but also to advocate for women’s rights and for minority rights. It’s called the Women’s March, but it’s open to everyone, and it’s just a way to get people to come together that are like minded and believe in the same things and want what’s best for our country,” Cline said.

Many students feel particularly invested in policies the new administration has denounced. Ally Mackender, senior, says this is what pushed her and her friends to march.

“We were going to go to the one in Austin originally, because we were just completely dumbfounded when Trump won. I remember the night before being excited and saying, ‘Oh, it’s so cool that tomorrow we’ll have the first woman president in history.’ It just bothers me so much that we apparently weren’t ready for that and all these people went out to march, but how many of them actually voted? I guess we went mostly because we’re all invested in different parts of policy that Trump is threatening to overturn, and so we wanted to have our voices be heard,” Mackender said.

The march served both to advocate on behalf of minority groups and to directly protest the new president. Aileen Domann, senior, described her motivation for marching as opposition to Trump himself.

“I wanted to join the march because I don’t think that people should silently sit by as a racist, sexist and homophobic man takes office. I feel like we have an opportunity to make a difference and show Donald Trump that we will not idly sit by but instead we will fight for our rights,” Domann said.

While many attended marches in San Antonio or Austin, demonstrations occurred throughout the nation as a part of a greater collective.

“I think it’ll be really impactful to just be a part of history. This isn’t just happening in Texas; it’s happening everywhere, and I think it’s going to be talked about for years to come. I think it’ll be great to see people from all walks of life coming together, supporting each other, loving each other,” Cline said.

The San Antonio march began at City Hall and was introduced by speakers discussing why they were marching, both in English and Spanish.

“When we got there, everybody was standing outside of City Hall, and there were about 30 people actually on the stairs, and each of them spoke a little bit about what they were marching for. Some spoke about women’s rights themselves, women’s health and advocacy, there were a couple of people there from Muslim groups speaking against islamophobia, and there people talking about refugees and migrants and how we need to keep our borders open. I thought it was really cool that they talked in English, and someone was there to translate it into Spanish, which I just think is so cool about San Antonio. It’s such an inclusive place, and I think that’s really in the spirit of the march,” Mackender said.

Though the march took place without a permit and against city ordinances, police officers were present and encouraged those attending.

“What was interesting about this one was that they didn’t have a permit to march because it costs thousands of dollars to get a permit, and they said, ‘Oh, the streets are owned by taxpayers, and we’re taxpayers, so we can just march.’ So technically what they were doing was against city ordinance, but what was cool was that the police still came, were blocking the streets, and making sure everyone was safe, and they were part of it and were excited about what people were doing. I feel like the whole community really came together,” Mackender said.

After participating in the march, many claimed to have better connected with the community.

“One of the aspects that I enjoyed most about the march was the sense of community that it elicited. There were people there from all backgrounds, races, genders and ages. It was amazing to see so many different people unite under one cause. I hope that the march sent a message of unity. This election has been based on hateful rhetoric and the march was a way to show that this hateful speech will not divide us,” Domman said.

While the hope is that these demonstrations will affect future policy, the minimum goal is to raise awareness and understanding.

“I hope it promotes a deeper understanding of each other and the diverse beliefs people have around the country. I hope that it leads to some change in politics and policy, though that may be a bit too far off. At the very least I hope it gets people thinking,” Cline said.

The march showed a sense of solidarity between groups fearing the marginalization of their rights by the coming administration.

“There were more people that marched than there were that went to his inauguration. I think that goes to show some solidarity because I think a lot people really feel isolated after what happened, and people are scared of having their rights stripped from them. People are scared of being deported, or registered or not have access to healthcare or an education, all these horrible things. People have to expect these things as rights, and they’re starting to be overturned, and it’s a pretty tenuous situation. What’s done is done, but at least we know that there’s a community of people with these values willing to stand up for one another. I don’t know that my going to the march is going to help change any policy, but at least I can show people immigrating here, refugees or even people who just need access to birth control, that I’m here for them and I’m willing to help however I can,” Mackender said.

Marching served as an opportunity to join in a collective voice in a way that many would not have done on their own.

“It was really cool because I have pretty strong political opinions, I’m pretty steadfast in my beliefs and values, but I’m not one to really preach them to people. I don’t talk about them unless someone asks. I’ve never protested or marched or done that before, and there were people there who had been doing this since the 60s. It just helped to show that history is kind of repeating itself, and I guess what I got out of it was that there are ways to be an activist other than just being educated. Just reading about these things and staying up to date doesn’t really do anything if I don’t go out and make my voice heard. I feel like it inspired me to want to keep going to things like this,” Mackender said.
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