On the day following President Donald Trump’s inauguration, millions of Americans took to the streets for the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history.
At the Women’s March on Washington, which took place on Jan. 21, protesters demonstrated for women’s and worker’s rights, immigration reform, and LGBT+ and racial equality.
Sister marches around the world took place simultaneously in solidarity. In Baltimore, a gathering on 33rd and Charles Street drew several thousand people.
There were 673 marches worldwide, on all seven continents. Over 500,000 people marched in Washington D.C., with over 4.9 million participants worldwide. The march was organized online following Trump’s election.
Hopkins students who participated in the Women’s March sat down with The News-Letter to share their experiences at the historic event. They described what the march meant to them and expressed their concerns about the Trump administration.
Angie Walker, Sophomore
Sophomore Angie Walker attended the sister march in Baltimore. Local media reported that approximately 5,000 people attended the event in Baltimore. Walker said that she was not used to being around such large crowds and was amazed to see that such a broad group of people who shared her values.
“It was interesting being around so many people and then seeing that many people... all came together for a common goal, despite being so different,” Walker said.
When asked what her main motivation for marching was, Walker expressed concern that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare, would be repealed.
“Personally, I am on the ACA, and so is my family,” she said. “So, to see that dissipate is saddening, especially since women are taking the biggest hit.”
While the march was in response to the inauguration, Walker said that it was not necessarily an all-out protest of Trump’s presidency. She also brought up the historical context of the protests.
“I don’t think it is particularly anti any politician, but rather pro-women and pro-equality,” Walker said. “I know there were some signs that were directly taken verbatim from the 1917 [women’s suffrage] protest, so we’ve been fighting for the same things for the past 100 years.”
Isabel Evans, Senior
Senior Isabel Evans attended one of the sister marches in Boston, Mass. She explained that the march drew large crowds that filled much of the Boston Common, a central park downtown. Evans cited reproductive and women’s rights as her primary motivations for attending the demonstration. She was moved by the amount of solidarity that the Boston community displayed.
"Everyone who was there was so on the same page about it. Even if maybe their views didn’t align, everyone was there to just be there,” she said. “It was really wonderful to see all these people come together, and just the range of ages. It was really empowering.”
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren were among those who spoke at the march. Evans said she was happy to see that political representatives from her home state shared her values and were working to take action against Trump.
“I cried while [Warren] spoke,” Evans said. “The people who represent [Massachusetts] really align with what I believe in, and I really believe that the people from Massachusetts who spoke are doing something. I think that that was really moving.”
Evans went on to say that the march made her proud to be part of the Boston community and that she felt inspired by the power of many individuals coming together under a common cause. Approximately 175,000 people attended the Boston march.
“I felt a really strong connection to the city and to everyone around me knowing that there were so many people around me who felt the same way,” Evans said. “It was really wonderful to feel like we were making a difference. I didn’t have a sign, I didn’t have a hat. I was just standing there. But there were so many people that made that choice to be there and stand there, and that made such a difference.”
The Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches had a large social media presence. The hashtag “#whyImarched” trended on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. For Evans, the march was an opportunity to go beyond social media and to actively participate in the political discourse.
“Being able to get out of the social media sinkhole and be with real people who had similar feelings was really important,” she said. “I think it is really important for people, especially of our generation, to remember to get off of our laptops and go do something.”
Mika Inadomi, Sophomore
Sophomore Mika Inadomi participated in the Women’s March on Washington because she saw it as an opportunity to take part in social justice and feminist activism.
“I was inspired to go not only because of the election and the new Trump administration, but also because [the march] was trying to focus on women’s rights in particular,” Inadomi said.
As a political science major, Inadomi fears that the policies implemented by the Trump administration could jeopardize her plans to go into politics. She also fears the rights of women and other minority groups are in danger of being stripped away.
“It’s been one day and [Trump has] already done so much stuff that is just terrible for everything the Obama administration has completed,” Inadomi said. “Just seeing that he put a freeze on federal hiring, and seeing the people that he put into his cabinet... I am just really worried that he will accomplish a lot of things that they were talking about during the campaign.”
Upon seeing the massive worldwide response to Trump’s actions, Inadomi is hopeful that positive change can still take place.
“Seeing what he is doing in the news, on a daily basis, is very discouraging,” she said. “But also seeing every single march — it’s not even just the Women’s March now. I’m constantly discouraged by Trump but encouraged by how people are reacting,” she said.
Sam Dominguez, Freshman
Freshman Sam Dominguez attended the D.C. march with fellow Hopkins students. Like many attendees, she faced logistical complications attending the march. She and her friends intended to take the MARC train to D.C., but arrived at Penn Station to find the line wrapping around the building. Dominguez had to take an Uber to D.C., afraid she would be unable to board a train. Despite the difficult commute, Dominguez was happy to participate in the event.
“I feel like it was a really good chance to be part of something historical, something big,” Dominguez said. “I was rooting for it so much that I thought we should just go. You don’t think ‘I’m an individual person I’m going to make a big difference,’ but definitely seeing all the people there it took everyone making the decision to come to make it a big event.”
Dominguez expressed that her primary motivation for attending the march was to support women’s rights and reproductive rights.
“Every woman should have the right to do what they want with their body. I feel like we’ve come so far, it’s scary to think we might regress,” she said.
Anthony Boutros, Freshman
Because people traveled from all over the country and the world to attend the march in D.C., freshman Anthony Boutros described the experience as empowering.
“I think it was a phenomenal time for people to get together, to feel empowered after... a long period of uncertainty about whether the very rights of certain people are going to be stripped away or undermined,” he said. “It was just extraordinary to see the amount of solidarity that exists, the amount of support and compassion and the capacity for advocacy.”
The march took place on the first day of Trump’s presidency, but Boutros emphasized the need for continued activism. He hopes that student groups on campus will continue to enact change by working within the Baltimore community.
“I think we are positioned at a unique place and a unique time to influence change locally,” Boutros said. “By taking whatever actions are necessary proactively and consistently to make sure that our message is heard... we are not only preventing the things that we want from being stripped away, we are also building on the progress we have made. We do not want to go back, so we are going to push to go forward, no matter how slowly.”
Mia Berman, Junior
Attendance at the D.C. march was much higher than expected and both organizers and attendees faced logistical problems during the event. Organizers unexpectedly altered the route of the march because of overflow in the designated area.
“It was definitely a little disorganized. I don’t think they were prepared for how many people were there,” junior Mia Berman said.
On the other hand, Berman observed that the march was inclusive of many different groups and helped raise awareness about a number of issues in addition to women’s rights.
“While it’s labeled the Women’s March, some of the most often chanted things were things like ‘immigrants are welcome here.’ There were environmental groups,” Berman said. “There were so many other groups represented. It was a very intersectional march, and I was very happy about. It was nice to see.”
While most attendees said the march was conservative, Berman said that some were critical of the approximately 53 percent of white women who voted for Trump.
“There was a sign that said white women voted for Trump, white women elected Trump,” she said. “Many people at the protest weren’t the happiest about seeing that sign. But I think it’s important for white women to realize that you can show up to the women’s march and wear your pink hat and make a difference, but you don’t actually make a difference if it ends there.”
Berman emphasized the responsibility of white women to stand up for other marginalized groups.
“You need to be participating in other marches, you need to be speaking up for other people,” she said. “You can’t just speak up when you are being attacked. You need to speak up when anyone’s rights are being attacked.”