by: Allyson Beetham
January 21st, 2017 was the day the people of Charlotte marched the uptown streets for the protection of women. The purpose of the march was to stand in “solidarity 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.” Many were upset that they could not attend the main march in Washington, D.C., so a sister march was formed in Charlotte.
My day began bright and early as I laced up my old sneakers and packed a march snack. If I could give one tip for attending a march, it would be to pack yourself a snack and bring a water bottle. You can’t fight for right if you can’t make it through the march. Sometimes marches take a lot of time to begin, especially if the crowd is larger than expected, and you want to make sure you’re prepared to deal with time issues. They may also extend past the time stated. After arriving at the UNCC campus to park, I joined the crowd at the Charlotte First Ward Park. It wasn’t even 9:30 yet, and the entire park was packed. After hearing that the expected number of people was less than 500, I was shocked to see much more. Someone beside me said that there were over 2,000 people there that day, and I could definitely feel it.
There were hundreds of women holding signs, and a good amount of men moving about the crowd. I’ve never had so many men say excuse me to me in my life actually. The signs were some of the most creative signs I’ve ever seen. Above you can see 3 signs I felt had the most character. “Ikea makes a better cabinet”, “Elizabeth Warren is my spirit animal”, and “If I make my uterus a corporation, will you stop regulating it?” These signs are without a doubt humorous, but they hold serious meaning. At the time president Donald Trump was releasing nominations for his cabinet, and the community was furious listening to Elizabeth Warren crack down on these nominations. She was asking extremely hard-hitting questions, and as a result the public became filled in on the lack of experience the nominees had to fill the positions they were aiming for. Topics like women’s reproductive rights and right to abortion were topics women were intent about addressing. This march was to show everyone that the people of Charlotte believe in equality for women, and we believe in it together, united. In addition to the topic of policy and rights, women were upset at the dangerous rhetoric Donald Trump uses to talk about women. Countless signs that passed me were solely about Trump’s statement about grabbing women. Many women attended solely for the fact that they were disgusted by the things said by our president.
While turning onto Tryon street, an older woman beside me began to chat with my about my sign (shown below). She said, “Ya know, we marched to get these rights, and now you all have to march to keep them.” What this woman said to me really hit home, because I had experienced backlash online for my desire to attend this march. Both men and women said that the marching was pointless because the women in America have it great. They referred to the terrible things women in other countries were enduring, and they compared it to the life of women in America. Aside from the fact that it’s extremely problematic to generalize the lived experiences of every American women, it is also important to understand that we have it good for a reason. We did not just wake up in 2017 as a country and have this society that they claim is so equal. Women fought for these rights long ago in the first and second wave of feminism. Now, there are entities threatening to bring us back, and we must fight to keep the progress of women going. That is what I felt during this entire march. I felt connected to every woman and man walking beside me. I felt a electrifying rush that you cannot feel from behind a computer screen, commenting and retweeting about your beliefs. The people of Charlotte were being seen, and when you are seen you are heard!
In Washington, DC marches happen quite frequently. This was one of the few marches that I’ve attended since moving to Charlotte in January, and I can’t recommend getting out there and marching enough. Every time there is a march going on in the Charlotte area that has the purpose of bettering a population of people, attend! If you don’t belong to the population of people the march is designed to raise awareness about, that shouldn’t be a reason you don’t attend. In order to be a true advocate, you must be an advocate for all oppressed people. #CLTtalesWomensMarch