By Aisha J. McAdams
When the bus pulled in at 4:17 a.m., Saturday morning after the Inauguration of President Donald Trump, 6 Southwest St. was empty other than 36 Stonehill students filing off the US Coachways bus after an eight-hour overnight trip to Washington D.C.
After some students brushed their teeth using a water bottle and the sidewalk as a sink, they rallied up their posters, companions and whatever could squeeze into their satchels or the clear backpacks that would pass security for the day.
Four hours later, more than half a million people crowded the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington along with millions of others around the world including cities such as Boston, New York, and even Nairobi, Kenya according to CNN.
While millions joined for particular personal reasons, the common thread among the marchers was unity. According to the Women’s March mission, the march was in response to the rhetoric of the election of President Donald Trump. It was the march’s goal to stand together in solidarity to protect the nation and its vibrant diverse communities that strengthen it.
Katherine O’Donnell, student executive of the Moore Center of Gender Equity, helped organize the trip and said she felt obligated to attend in response to the election.
“I have always been extremely passionate about gender equity and the intersectional nature of this event drew me to it,” O’Donnell said. “It was not intended just to be about women’s rights, but also rights for people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, Muslims, etc.”
Other students including Bertha Roberte ‘18 and Christ Julmice ‘17 attended because they wanted to stand up against issues that affect them on a day to day basis from not only being a woman, but a woman of color.
“I feel like Trump has attacked every layer of what makes me, me. I am black, an immigrant and a woman, so I feel as though I am forced to fight for justice and protect myself, the LGBTQ+ community, my Muslim friends and immigrants,” Roberte said. “I am also voice for the Black Lives Matter movement.”
O’Donnell, along with the rest of the Stonehill students, was excited to hear from members of the Women’s March that they were the first marchers to arrive among the record breaking crowd of the day.
“It was definitely tough with it being the first weekend back at school and my friends wanting me to spend time with them but I was doing it for myself, my country, and my future children so I got over it relatively fast,” Colleen MacDonald ‘17 said.
A rally was held prior to the march from 10 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. between third and fourth on Independence facing Northwest but an overwhelming amount of support from marchers the left neighboring streets booming. The rally featured recognized advocates, artists, entertainers and other leaders including Gloria Steinem, Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansen, and the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards.
Marisa Nieves, a member Women’s Health and Empowerment Now and the Moore Center, felt that America Ferrera’s speech in particular resonated with her.
“The emotional connection to what she was saying was so apparent. You could tell she cared deeply about what she was saying,” Nieves said. “In addition to listening to such strong leaders, seeing all of the unity from everyone coming together, no matter each other’s differences was truly empowering. There was an overall sense of respect for one another.”
The rally extended for more than an hour longer because of the number of speakers. Marchers appeared to get antsy to march because some, including students from Stonehill, had been standing with other protesters for over seven hours straight.
The march began before the rally officially concluded. Officers and emergency vehicles were dispersed throughout the route and according to NBC, D.C. police reported no arrests.
Will Gilmore ‘20 and Todd Gernes, an associate professor and Assistant Dean of General Education, said they felt the march was inclusive even through most of the people there were women..
“The organizers made a point to create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for everyone, and I appreciated that very much. I’ve studied and taught Women’s History and African American History for many years, and so critiques of patriarchy and white privilege no longer make me uncomfortable,” Gernes said.
Gernes attended the march with his wife. Gilmore attended with his friends to support LGBTQ+ rights.
“I’m bisexual and it was something that was really important to me to be there to stand up who I am and take part in a moment in history,” Gilmore said. “Being a man I felt like I stood out a little in the beginning but everyone was really welcoming.”
Like Gilmore, O’Donnell believed it was an important moment in history that many Stonehill students missed out on.
“I have been increasingly disappointed by the apathy of Stonehill students over the past four years and this is just one example. Even many students who said they wanted to come, didn’t actually take the step to act,” O’Donnell said. “The fact that 5 million people showed up across the country and not even 55 Stonehill students showed up is frustrating to me. However, the students who did show up 100% made it worth it. And the turnout in DC and worldwide was absolutely incredible and validating in so many ways.”
But according to those who did attend the march was a truly remarkable experience and incomparable experience, even to the snowflake soiree
“I’m proud to go to Stonehill. It’s lit the fire in me to that the sentiment of care is simply not enough- that we need to take action to protect our fellow humans,” MacDonald said.