By MACKENZIE HARD
This past weekend, thousands of women, men and children gathered around the Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. for the second annual Women’s March on Washington. This event began to advance peaceful and positive progress within communities across the country, along with the goal of ensuring that all women and their allies are involved with civic and political roles.
The theme this year was Power to the Polls, with a focus on getting more people to the polls and voting qualified women into office. Speakers included U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Virginia Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler. Throughout the day, there was a sense of community, which was very uplifting and empowering.
I took the D.C. Metro in along with some other UMW students, getting off at Foggy-Bottom, and followed the thousands of people from the Metro to the Lincoln Monument. Once we arrived, we were greeted by a group handing out delicious, free cupcakes and were surrounded by thousands of marchers with homemade posters and banners, bearing slogans like, “Nevertheless she persisted” and “Privilege is thinking you do not have the time to fight for others’ rights.”
While we gathered around the Reflecting Pool and waited for the march to begin, we listened to the speakers who talked about the accomplishments of women in office at the state and federal levels, along with encouraging marchers to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. We also saw fellow University of Mary Washington students and talked to those around us. When the march started, it was led by a group called Batalà Washington. This nonprofit organization is an Afro-Brazilian band that plays Samba-Reggae rhythms. There are groups like this one all over the world, but this is the only group that is all-women. As we marched to the beats of Batalà, we all felt so empowered to be there supporting various issues and causes.
One of the many issues that people this year were marching for was getting more women into public office. This has become a topic that many have started to talk about as more of the political conversations and decisions focus on women and their bodies.
Marches like these advocate for ending all violence against women, supporting LGBTQ+ rights, immigrants rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, and environmental justice to name a few. At the end of the march, we turned on to Pennsylvania Avenue and were right in front of the White House. As the drums of Batalà continued to play, we finished out the march and people started to put their posters on the fence surrounding the White House for others to see.
Once we made it back to campus, we were motivated to become more involved in political activism, while becoming more aware of what is going within our government.