On Jan. 21, 2017, women and allies of every color, race and ethnicity gathered together for a series of worldwide protests. These protests happened immediately after the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. Rallies were in support of women’s rights but most importantly, targeted toward President Trump’s statements and actions that many believed were anti-female.
The goal of these protests was to increase awareness of immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, health care reform, freedom of religion and more. There were approximately 500,000 people in Washington D.C., and 4.8 million participants worldwide.
The first protest occurred in Washington, D.C., which was known as the “Women’s March on Washington.” The purpose of this march was to deliver a message to the new administration on its first day in office. In addition, the march sought to inform the world that women’s rights are also human rights. On the day of the Washington March, it was live streamed on various media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
NCC professors of communication, Dr. Amy Buxbaum, Dr. Mara Berkland and Professor Supna Jain flew to D.C. to march in solidarity. Dr. Buxbaum attended the women’s march because she said she wanted to do something for those who may not feel safe in the current political environment.
“I wanted to do something, however small, to show my solidarity with women and men who care about human rights for all,” said Buxbaum. “Selfishly, I went to make myself feel better after an ugly and bitter campaign.”
On another note, Dr. Berkland attended the women’s march to help increase awareness about the platform and attitude that the GOP and current president have in regards to women and minorities.
“I wanted our representatives to see a groundswell, to remind who the people of the U.S. are,” said Berkland.
“If people only show up to march and do nothing after, that will be problematic.”
In addition to Washington D.C., the Women’s March occurred in cities across the nation. Cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle combined for an estimated 2 million participants. Moreover, women and their allies marched in over 60 countries spanning all seven continents.
Professor Sabryna Cornish, an assistant professor of media studies at NCC who attended the women’s march in Chicago, learned that there are a lot of people who feel the same way as she does.
“I attended the women’s march in Chicago to show my support for those protected classes of people that are likely to have their rights gutted by the presidential administration,” said Cornish. “I also want politicians to understand the decisions they make are going to have a monumental impact on a large majority of people and I will not be quiet when they want to limit or completely eliminate affordable health care, target immigrants and people based on their religion or sexual orientation and cut or eliminate social programs.”
Student leaders Manilyn Gumapas and Kevin Oyakawa dedicated their Saturday mornings to the women’s march in Chicago. Gumapas and Oyakawa gathered students on campus to march in solidarity and to unite as one nation. Gumapas, a junior majoring in sociology and the founder of Mosaic, protested the country’s new administration and the circumstances that led to its establishment.
“We live in a society that objectifies and dismisses women,” said Gumapas. “Our new president is unfortunately a perfect example of that disrespectful behavior to women.”
Oyakawa, a sophomore majoring in computer science and the president of NCC College Democrats, learned that people still care and will not be silent for the next four years.
“I decided to attend the march because we just watched the inauguration of a president who believes it is acceptable to perpetuate a culture in which women are less than men,” said Oyakawa. “I have three older sisters who are some of the strongest people I know, so it was gratifying to march on their behalf.”
Immediately after, the Women’s March on Washington created a campaign called, “10 Actions 100 Days.” This campaign allows people to take action on an issue that matters every 10 days. The first action consisted of writing postcards to senators about what matters most to them and how they are going to continue to fight for it.
Professors and student leaders at North Central College continue to work in activism. Some focus on what to teach students and others focus on how they are going to use what they have learned to better their roles as leaders on campus.
Dr. Buxbaum said, “I try to teach my students that democracy is a living thing, a noble human endeavor that is sustained only by the active participation of its citizens.”