On Saturday, January 20, I found myself among 2,000 participants of the women's march in Charleston, South Carolina. Going into this experience, I was skeptical and a little worried about what I would encounter. Growing up, both of my parents were relatively conservative, so I never had experience with events such as the women’s march--where attendants are mainly moderate or democratic party members. Despite a lot of negativity around the women’s march, I discovered it to be empowering, inspiring, and motivational. Upon arrival, I saw thousands of people gathered together in front of a stage. My friends and I entered slowly, not knowing how to act or what to expect. Thankfully, were met with open arms and friendly smiles. Elated with the response we got, we began to explore the crowd, taking pictures of the various posters and meeting new people who where all there for the same purpose: to support women’s rights.
My favorite part of the march were the posters. Some were funny, others were very real and hard-hitting. My friends and I made posters too, one of which said, “Men of Quality don’t fear Equality." This is true especially in today’s society, which the speakers for the march made a point to highlight.
There was a wide variety of speakers, including South Carolina Representative Wendy Brawley, South Carolina Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Rabbi Greg Kanter, local yoga instructor and activist Kate Counts, transgender rights activist Vanity Deterville, and the mayor of Charleston, John Tecklenburg with his wife, Sandy. One of the most inspiring speakers was the rabbi, Greg Kanter, of Kadal Kadosh Beth Edohim. He began his speech by introducing his two beautiful little girls who attended the rally with him. He explained that his husband and he were having a difficult time deciding whether the girls should attend this event due to its controversy, but they reluctantly allowed them to come and support their father. He used this example of a difficult decision to begin his speech about his hopes that the future for his little girls will be one where they are viewed as equal to men.
One thing I found particularly interesting is that every speaker, when referring to our current government, never mentioned Donald Trump’s name. I am not sure if doing so was an attempt to keep the peace between the people or if it was on purpose because they are above Trump and his ideals. Either way, the main objective of the march was to empower women to have a more influential stance in government in order to evoke change.
Overall the experience was life-changing. It was a really beautiful thing to see people from so many different backgrounds and unique walks of life come together in unity for one event. My roommate, Ann Newsome, who told me about the women’s march and convinced me to go, described the march as “eye opening” and “powerful.” She really enjoyed how people of different races and religions came together to support one issue. Another friend of mine, Taylor Barnes, said something similar: "The women’s rally in Charleston, South Carolina was a great experience. Seeing everybody come together the way they did really opened my eyes to importance of female representation in government." It is safe to say that we were all changed by the love and unity we saw between people who didn’t even know each other, just because one relevant and significant issue brought them together.
I would suggest that everyone, especially young women, attend at least one women’s march in their life. It was an incredible experience that really influenced my opinions and beliefs in equality, not just for women, but for everyone.