The obvious question I've been asked when someone learns I'm attending the Women's March on Washington is "why?" Why would hop on a bus, presumably crammed with estrogen fueled feminists for an uncomfortable 12 hour ride (each way) only to attend the Women's March? What could I possibly care about that would possess me to devote my time, money and energy to this cause?
Some scoff at the march, which takes place the day after the inauguration, as a protest of the election itself. Some zealous Trump supporters have dismissed the march as a bunch of crybaby liberals showing what sore losers they are. The march has frequently been called an anti-Trump protest.
This is so much more than a Trump protest.
I would be remiss not to acknowledge how detrimental this past election year has been to women. We listened to one candidate frequently degrade women, actually boast about sexual assaulting women, bully the most vulnerable and then watch our fellow Americans dismiss his abhorrent behavior. We believed we were better than this. Then we elected him to our nation's highest (and formally most dignified) office. It was not a good year for women.
We're not delusional dreamers. We're not even disputing the results of the election, despite its many discrepancies. We know Donald Trump will become our president on January 20. We also know that if his previous behavior is any indication of how he'll lead, we know the fight isn't over--it's just begun.
Will a president who censors the press uphold our first amendment rights? Will a president who verbally admitted to sexual assault help reduce the prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses? Will a president who entertains the idea of banning Muslims be a defender of religious freedom? Will a president whose rhetoric deeply divided our nation truly become a president for all Americans?
These questions haunt us. We don't want to see Trump dramatically fail, as we know we'll all suffer. We love this country and want to peacefully demonstrate, staying true to our American values and what really makes America great.
When I faced the harsh reality that Donald Trump would be the next president of the United States, frankly, I was devastated. The next day, I dried my eyes and cuddled up with my one-year-old daughter to watch Hillary Clinton's concession speech. I heard Clinton say,
"To all the little girls watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your dreams."
As Clinton's powerful words echoed through my living room and my daughter watched with wide-eyed innocence and beauty, I knew the time to be sad was over. Now it was time to act.
Obviously I wasn't alone. The Women's March began as a small, grassroots effort to advocate for the causes and values so many of us hold dear. Now, hundreds of thousands of women are planning to attend. Two hundred buses are headed to the inauguration. Around 1800 are headed to the Women's March the following day. Allies are standing in solidarity in sister marches all over the world. The incredible success of the march and the organizers' ability to inspire so many is truly a testament to the power of American women.
Historically, marches have had major impact on our political process and the lives of the activists who fought so valiantly. The legendary March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his inspirational "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial was one of the largest political rallies and is considered the catalyst for the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
With the support of notable partners such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, the Southern Law and Poverty Center, Amnesty International, NAACP, the National Resources Defense Council and dozens others, the Women's March has built a fierce network committed to advocacy. Partners and attendees want to be part of much more than a demonstration. They want this march to be a spark that fuels the fire of a movement. The Women's March has the potential to influence policy and positively impact the lives of so many Americans, much like marches of the past.
The world is watching and wants to know how we feel about the current state of our country. One day my daughter will grow old enough to ask what her mother was doing during such a tumultuous era in our nation's history. Marginalized groups desperately need support.
The time in your life to stand on the right side of history is now. Will you join us?