by Emma Hochfelder — Emma is a first-year undergraduate student interested in public policy or pre-law.
When the results flooded in on the evening of November 8th I was surrounded by like-minded people who felt assured by the idea that that night, the first woman President of the United States of America would be elected into office. As polls began closing state-by-state and region-by-region, a shadow cast itself upon the nation. In a room filled with a diverse array of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, nationalities, immigrant statuses, religious beliefs, and gender and sexual identities, I watched each person hit their breaking point. It wasn’t that our candidate lost but, instead, who prevailed. Donald J. Trump became President-Elect of the United States of America. In that moment, I was certain all of the good in humanity had died.
It has been a long, strenuous three months. At college I am surrounded virtually only by people who recognize and combat the hate-mongering tactics of Trump; however, in those three months I also returned home. I’m from a rural community in the heart of the Midwest, suffice it to say, filled with people who turned out in big numbers to vote for Trump. Finding out people that I knew and cared for so deeply could cast their ballot for someone like Trump, I felt betrayed. It isn’t that they all agreed with the then-candidate’s remarks about Muslims, immigrants, or women, but with their vote they condoned it. In those three months I felt a range of emotions and none more surreal than when I stepped foot into Washington, D.C., on January 21st.
On Saturday morning, I woke to headlines of women’s marches already taking place world-wide. I don’t know if anyone at that time could have predicted the magnitude of that day. I rode the school-sponsored bus from New York to Washington, and on our way there I started to pay attention to increasing levels of charter buses I saw whizzing by us. In a ten-minute span I saw at least twelve charter buses, filled to capacity, pass on the highway. I started to recognize it then: whatever was happening today was bigger than a normal rally or protest. The bus traveled the 4.5 hour drive. When we arrived the bus parked at the metro station. We had to take the train to actually get to the location of the march and then travel by foot. Once we arrived at the metro station the line of people to get aboard the train equaled an hour’s worth of waiting. It felt so comforting to know that I was surrounded by like-minded people in a country that felt so hopeless. The time went by quickly. Each train car was filled to the brim, zooming into the heart of the march. After an hour-and-a-half train ride, the doors opened to the metro station caddy corner from the Capitol Building.
My group rushed to street. We began walking over a hill. At that point I couldn’t quite see above the crowd, but I began hearing sounds of disbelief and amazement from those around me. When I got into the intersection, I looked to my left and saw the nation’s Capitol Building, and straight in front of me were hundreds of thousands of people. It was the first time in nearly three months that I could feel myself regain that hope in humanity that I lost in November. There was still something worth fighting for because everyone there and across the nation had a lot of fight left in them.
I didn’t arrive in time to partake in the rally, in fact, I arrived just as the march was officially canceled. That didn’t stop me or the nearly half a million other people who came. Participants seemed to come with different goals despite the fact that many marchers embraced and emphasized the rights a woman has over her own body. We were all unified in the fact that the tactics being used by the new administration were unacceptable and inexcusable. To march in the nation’s capital surrounded by people who seemed to care so deeply about the rights of themselves and other human beings was an experience I will always remember. The entire city was flooded with bodies who refused to accept the racist, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, misogynistic, and bigoted dialogue of President Trump. The time for civil unrest concerning the election and the culture that surrounded it surmounted in that march. In a march filled with a diverse array of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, nationalities, immigrant statuses, religious affiliations, gender and sexual identities I saw each person gain back their strength. In those moments I again found my faith in humanity, because despite it all, I vehemently believe love will trump hate.
(Emma’s response is the second of those we are posting about the Women’s March on Washington and Sister Marches. Each response should only be interpreted as the response of the writer and not necessarily that of the SLC Women’s History Program, all feminists, all women, all people, etc. Re/Visionist aims to be a forum for multiple feminisms and multiple perspectives on women’s history.)