Hi, Youth Voices! My name is Abby Henry, and I am a Senior at Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio (1 hour South of Cleveland). I went to the Women’s March on Washington and I would like to share about my experience.
I worked on the Hillary Clinton Campaign for the Ohio Democratic Party for about 11 months. Everything you could imagine a campaign doing, I did it! I phone banked (calling supporters to get them to vote/volunteer and calling undecided voters to share why I was supporting Hillary), I canvassed (going door to door to supporter and undecided voters’ homes to make sure they voted), I registered thousands of voters, I organized a fellow team of students in my area, I housed a Regional Organizer of the Campaign (who became like my brother), and I worked on social media outreach. I tirelessly dedicated hours upon hours to the campaign, so naturally, it was devastating when we didn’t win the electoral college. Being a woman (sex-wise), a girl (gender-wise), an animal rights advocate, an environmentalist, and an ally for those of different sexualities, nationalities, races, and religious backgrounds I knew I had to continue being heard. About a week after the election, I participated in a local #NotMyPresident March and felt empowered. Thus, when I heard about the women’s March I jumped on the opportunity.
On January 20, 2017, my Mom, Andi (my middle sister), Isaac, Ted, Tumas (my best friends), and I crammed ourselves into our car and road tripped 7 hours to Washington DC. After a quite uncomfortable car ride, being squished in the back seat with all of the luggage, we arrived in DC around 11 pm. We stayed with a student at the Catholic University of America, Meghan, who had taken a semester off of her studies to be an organizer for the Ohio Campaign. She lived with my Grandmother, and we worked endless hours together so we got pretty close. For the march the next day we all took the metro to Union Station, which was packed with clever signs and pink hats. My group attempted to meet up with the organizer of the campaign who lived with me but had no such luck. Still feeling inspired in the face of our defeat, we listened to speakers before the march. If you watch the videos below, you can tell that in the earlier videos we were farther away but we were able to keep creeping up closer to the stage. There were big names like Gloria Steinem, American Ferrera, Scarlett Johanson, Katy Perry, Michael Moore, etc. There were also many organizers speaking. My favorite was Ashley Judd’s powerful poem:
My favorite was Ashley Judd’s powerful poem:
and Sophie Cruz.
The speakers went a little longer than intended, so people were getting a little tired of standing and not marching. We personally stood for the speakers from 9 am ET to 2 pm ET, and we didn’t even hear all of them. At around 2 pm, we pushed out of the standing crowd to get to the marching crowd. The streets of DC were completely closed and filled with marchers, it was a truly amazing sight to see. My favorite chants were “this is what democracy looks like,” “this is what a feminist looks like,” and “welcome to your first day, we will not go away.” I was amazed at how peaceful the whole march was and a number of people that showed up, from everywhere. In addition to the DC March, there was at least 1 march in every US state and around 100 marches outside of the US. The world was united under one cause, I have never been more proud to be a part of something.
For those who don’t know, the pink hats you see are pussy hats. They are pink hats with cat ears on the top. The aim was to unite everyone, even if they couldn’t make it to the march and to send a message that rape culture will not be accepted.
I was personally marching because I did not agree with the rhetoric normalized by Donald Trump in the 2016 Election. My main motives were reproductive rights and equality for all people.
One thing about the march that I didn’t particularly enjoy was the lack of organization. A lot of the speakers felt repetitive and ineffective. During a lot of speeches, the people on the ground felt talked at and not with. A lot of the speakers were reiterating the same issues in society, but that’s precisely why we all showed up. Sometimes we felt belittled by the speakers. I feel as though when the march became massive, it almost became too commercialized. That’s not necessarily something the march organizers could have helped, but it was a bit frustrating.
Despite the negative of the march, it was a great cause and it mobilized so many people. My favorite thing about the march was how inclusionary it was, the march wasn’t just for women. Men were also showing up for their support of women’s rights. Additionally, the march wasn’t just for liberals or solely anti-trump people either. I was reading stories about people that voted for Trump showing up for the march. They liked Trump’s policies but wanted to let him know that his rhetoric wasn’t appreciated. The inclusion and acceptance were amazing.