There is nothing like the feeling of being part of something so much bigger than ourselves. That is exactly how I felt walking through the streets of Columbia on Saturday with the Mid-Missouri Solidarity March.
This weekend, the Women’s March on Washington became one of the largest peaceful protests in U.S. history.Over 600 sister marches joined in around the world, including in Columbia.
I am a strong advocate for women’s rights and a supporter of the anti-Trump movement. I was immensely impressed and proud to learn that our college town would be part of a movement taking place not only within our country, but across the world.
When I first walked up to the Courthouse Plaza, I could feel the energy radiating from the crowd of people standing outside. The energy was full of passion to support our rights and the hatred we shared for President Donald Trump. It was refreshing to be in a space where everyone was in agreement on “broad opposition to the Trump agenda.”
There was a definite sense of solidarity and compassion among the protesters, creating an instant and powerful bond. I was fortunate enough to attend the march with my two sisters, and I know that day will be something we — along with just under 5 million other protesters around the world — will remember for the rest of our lives.
Once everyone was gathered around the plaza, two courageous women kicked off the rally by energizing the crowd and reminding us all why we were there: to stand in solidarity with one another and fight for the rights not only of not only women, but all American people, that are being threatened. I immediately began looking around and internalizing the spectacle of the entire event. There was a drum circle on stage quite literally marching to its own beat. There were “radical cheerleaders” leading fiery chants about the greed, racism and sexism of our current president. Finally, the 24 different organizations that sponsored the event stepped forward and earned the recognition they deserved. There was such a wide variety of people from every walk of life on that stage, which is precisely what I loved about it. No matter what age or sexual orientation, everyone was welcome, and everyone’s voices were heard.
All my life, I have never worried about my freedom of speech or freedom in general being taken away until now. That is a terrifying thing to say. When we marched through the streets of downtown Columbia, this feeling suddenly disappeared. Thousands of people marched together holding their signs and sharing their fears and dreams, and it was truly a beautiful sight.
Although I am outraged by the current state of our country, it felt truly amazing to know that I live in a place where I can talk freely and receive solidarity and support from thousands of people in return.
I learned many things from the march. First, no matter how much you may believe it, you are never alone. Second, as cliché as it is, every voice matters and deserves to be heard. Third, there truly is power in numbers. This is what democracy should look like. As Hillary Clinton once said, “women’s rights are human rights,” and we need to do everything within our power to make that a reality once and for all.