by Anna Gombert
The idea for the Women’s March on Washington came from a Facebook post made by sixty-six year old Teresa Shook, in which she wrote that there should be a march in response to the election of Donald Trump. The original march took place in Washington, D.C., the day after Trump’s inauguration. There were sister marches in every state in the US, with most states hosting several marches in different cities. There were a total of 670 sister marches around the world and on every continent. According to CNN, even Antarctica had a march of 30 people on a boat traveling in international waters. Different reports put the total number of attendees for all marches between 1 million and 3 million. The Washington Post reported that the original organizers for the March on Washington expected around 200,000 attendees, but instead were greeted with around 500,000. The crowds in many cities were much larger than expected, including the marches in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. The march in D.C. also toted many famous guest speaker such as Gloria Steinem, Madonna, America Ferrara, Cecile Richards, and Scarlett Johansson. Many other influential speakers made speeches at various sister marches.
The official mission of the March on Washington posted on their webpage states, “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.” The organizers of the march were sure to stress diversity, inclusion, and accessibility for the march. There were also requests for non-violence both on the official website and in posts made on the march’s Facebook page. There were no reported protest-related arrests, incidents of violence, or destruction of property.
A group of students and alumni from Drew, organized by CLA seniors Hannah Kohn (‘17) and Jonathan Van Dongen (‘17), attended the sister march in New York. A total of 108 people took the bus from Drew to the city, while several students got into the city by different means. The two seniors decided to get a group from Drew to the Women’s March for several reasons. “We wanted to provide a way for students to go to the march as a group, not only because we felt that our community should have its political voices heard, but also because in a political moment characterized by attacks on certain bodies, it is important to feel that there is a group of people who want to fight for what’s right,” said Kohn. Van Dongen added his take: “We could easily have gone on our own, but thought it more prudent to empower young adult activists and strengthen the movement overall by adding as many members of the Drew community to the crowd as possible.”
The two originally planned to take a group of Drew students to the March on Washington; however, that idea soon became logistically improbable. Instead, based on the votes of the student attendees, they changed the trip to the NYC march. Kohn explained how they registered the Drew group with the organizers of the march and were given start times and places for the buses to park. Even though Drew did not technically sponsor the trip to the march, help was received from several organizations on campus. “Student Activities and other departments were incredibly helpful in supporting this trip from logistical to financial standpoints. Ultimately, we jumped through many hoops to get the final product. This trip was an incredible team effort and would absolutely not have happened without such great collaborative efforts” Van Dongen said.
When asked how they felt about having Drew students at the march, Van Dongen said that “We are the future leaders of this nation and we have immense influence on our representatives currently in office. Having college groups in general—but especially the 90+ that Drew sent–is truly inspiring and hopefully lays the groundwork for future political engagement in our age group.”
Kohn echoed many of his sentiments; “Our attendance at the march showed the direction we want to guide our country in–and the path we do not want to go down. It was a powerful day for so many reasons,” said Kohn.