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  • erinschrode

Why I March

Love. Strength. Unity. Freedom. Resistance. Power.

The Women's March was among the most profound and energizing experiences of my life. I am humbled, I am inspired, I am ignited — I am woman!

Millions of human beings of all genders, ages, races, faiths and backgrounds united around the world to send a clear message: WE ARE HERE. We will not back down. WE WILL ORGANIZE. We will fight on so many levels. Well over 1 million people gathered peacefully in Washington DC and around 4 million individuals turned out across the United States, the largest demonstrations in our nation's history, in addition to countless global solidarity marches.

A sea of activists – both first-timers and lifers – surrounded me in every imaginable direction in the center of DC with sincere passion, creative signs (#WeShallOvercomb for the win), hand-knit pink pussy hats, clever chants ("We need a leader, not a nasty tweeter"), and deep conviction. I felt immense pride to be present, alive and conscious, to be in my skin alongside beautiful, brave, outspoken souls – some holding my hands, others embedded within my heart. I listened to the brilliance of diverse speakers front-and-center at the rally, pounded the pavement with courageous brothers and sisters, and came home to marvel at friends' remarkable visuals and tales from cities and towns the world over, blown away by the sheer magnitude of the marches. I sat beside my friend’s eleven-year-old daughter in the hours following the march, hearing how one day, one place, one movement has forever shifted her belief in people, views of activism, and commitment to being the change she wishes to see.

I needed the Women's March on Washington – to know that I am not alone, that people will show up, that we can harness our collective power.

Peaceful dissent is democracy in action, voicing differing opinions is integral to success, civil disobedience is a bedrock of progress. We, the people, cannot ever be underestimated — capable of turning obstacles into stepping stones into launching pads. As Gloria Steinem said before my eyes, “this is the upside of the downside” of a Trump presidency, or, as Van Jones put it from the same podium, “with every breakdown, a breakthrough is possible."

What defines us is how we respond to challenges and injustice, hatred and division, attacks and lies — how we architect new systems, forge fresh pathways, and outline a new possible with love, intention and inclusion. When our dignity and rights are in peril, surrender is not an option. The arc of the universe is long, the journey painful, frustrating and dangerous, the methods imperfect – but we must only grow stronger and more resolute, build a network of bridges, and choose freedom over fear. Our liberation is intertwined, bound together in this common fabric of destiny, as MLK wisely said.

I march because I believe in the promise of America, the moral core of society, and the power of people. I march to honor the legacy of those who risked their safety, comfort and lives to bring us to this moment in time – making unimagined leaps and bounds, while charting a brave course forward. I march so that my daughters and sons will not have to march for these same issues, rather marching onwards in the next chapter of our continued struggle. I march for women’s rights, which are human rights, for reproductive choice, for marriage equality, for climate revolution, for paid family leave, for immigration action, for LGBTQIA rights, for economic prosperity, for health care, for criminal justice reform, for national security, for voting rights, for freedom of religion and speech and press. EVERYTHING matters. And from here, we build out platforms and put forth action plans to more effectively enable the masses to act upon ethics and values, while holding government, business, media and each other accountable.

We need citizen activists to organize now more than ever before – and some who dare to run for office, like this woman did in the last election cycle! A woman’s place IS in the House, the Senate, the resistance, wherever we can be most impactful in changing what we can no longer accept. WE are the ones we’ve been waiting for. WE are the capable agents of change who can rewrite our script and reclaim our destiny. WE are the leaders of today who envision a better future and boldly unite in solidarity with clear goals, innovative approaches, focused effort, concrete projects, and collaborative action.

I am angry, I am outraged, I am hurt, but I refuse to give the shrug of inevitability or, worse yet, respond out of a place of hate or ignorance. I rise today with a bright perspective, processing this wave of unexpectedly empowering emotions after being a witness to, and active participant in, history. I recommit to the work of justice. I use my voice. I will not rest. I stand united with humanity. I believe. I fight. I organize. I love. I march.


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