Marchers join worldwide movement for women’s rights

Alara Burgess
According to organizers of the Houston march, over 23 thousand protesters turned out at the event.

“Love, not hate! Makes America great!” Chants rang out among the more than 23 thousand protesters who marched through downtown on Saturday, Jan. 21, for the Houston Women’s March.

The Houston Women’s March was a sister march to the national event in Washington, D.C., which inspired an estimated 3.5 million people to march globally. While the marches took place the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, they expressed more than just dissatisfaction with the new president — they made a broader statement for women’s fundamental human rights and the protection of marginalized groups.

“This wasn’t an anti-Trump march. It was a pro-women march,” senior Mary Elizabeth Dawson said. “The march was not an attack on the president. It was a plea for him to listen to what we have to say.”

Protesters carried signs and wore themed shirts. Men, women, toddlers and even dogs attended. In Houston, after gathering in Jamail Skate Park, the crowd headed towards City Hall, where they stayed for a peaceful free speech rally.

For students in attendance, the overall attitude was one of solidarity.

“The rally was super positive and it was just about loving each other and raising each other up,” freshman Shelby Wilson said.

According to sophomore Lily Schueppert, the march was a positive outlet for the disappointment she felt following the November election.

“Being around all these other people who felt the same way as I did was great, and it felt like the first step to start fighting back for the future I want,” Schueppert said.

Freshman Sarah Jane Lasley appreciated the sisterhood of the marchers.

“I went into it knowing that it would be an important experience, but I had no idea how much it would really affect me,” Lasley said. “It restored my hope that, although we face discrimination and a presidency that may lead to more discrimination, I have a community of strong women to rely on.”

During the event, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo addressed the crowd outside City Hall, saying the Houston Women’s March was the largest gathering the city has ever seen. Mounted police officers ensured that the event remained peaceful. HPD officers directed traffic and were seen chatting and taking selfies with the marchers.

Other students attended marches in Austin and Washington, D.C.

Sophomores Lilah Gaber and Sophie Gillard and juniors Elise Lanier, Maddi Speed and Julia Waller marched in Austin.

There weren’t people marching solely in the name of their own race, ethnicity or religion. Everyone was marching for everyone.”

“Because Austin is smaller, the environment was awesome,” Lanier said. “I felt like everyone in Austin was very supportive of the cause, even those who weren’t marching.”

At the Women’s March in D.C., Dawson saw a sense of unity across diverse groups.

“There weren’t people marching solely in the name of their own race, ethnicity or religion. Everyone was marching for everyone. It was an uplifting and united environment,” Dawson said. “I’ve seen opponents of the march criticizing it as divisive, but as an attendee I felt more a part of a community than I have in a while.”

The marches inspired attendees to express their ideas through creative signs and clothing choices. Thousands of women wore pink cat-ear beanies while others painted or drew feminist slogans on T-shirts. Popular slogans included “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance,” illustrated with a photo of Princess Leia from Star Wars, “Love Trumps Hate,” and variations on “Nasty Woman,” an insult Trump lobbed at Hillary Clinton during their final presidential debate which has been reclaimed by Clinton supporters and feminist groups.

Wilson, who participated with seniors Alara Burgess, Ellie Faraguna, and JaDa Johnson, was inspired by the march in Houston.

“The entire experience was unreal,” Wilson said. “The amount of power, solidarity, and togetherness that I felt at the rally proves to me that women and minorities will not take the new changes in government lying down.”