Students participate in Women’s Marches
Nicole Caratas | Sunday, January 22, 2017
The day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, people across the country and the globe took to the streets in Women’s Marches to stand up for the rights of women and marginalized groups. Saint Mary’s students joined the marches both in downtown South Bend and in Washington, D.C.
Sophomore Teresa Brickey was part of a group that traveled to Washington. She said the group received scholarships from the Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to attend the march.
“I march because there are many injustices taking place in our country,” she said. “My friends have been targeted for their skin color, for their ethnicity, for their faith, for their sexuality, for who they essentially are. This past election cycle has highlighted the worst parts of our nation, of which evoke such targeting. Donald Trump has only affirmed and validated hateful beliefs against women and against marginalized people. Thus, I march for them, for myself and for our future. We must end systemic racism, we must end xenophobism, we must end homophobia, we must end discrimination of any and all kinds.”
Being in Washington, D.C., for the march was “overwhelming,” Brickey said.
“Marching with hundreds of thousands of people all fighting on behalf of intersectional feminism was one of the best things I have ever done,” she said. “To be able to do this in our government’s capitol was a privilege. We marched along the streets where laws are made and where our representatives work for us. We were living out our democracy in the place of which it was birthed.”
Brickey said her goal was to call the new administration to action.
“Our government needs to hear the people it works for because we are the reason it exists,” she said. “Our representatives need to actually represent us — the people.”
Senior Caylin McCallick attended the South Bend march. She said it was important to march to show solidarity.
“Marching — the act of walking around town in and of itself — would mean nothing if you are doing it on your own,” she said. “However, marching with a large group of people, you suddenly realize you’re not so alone, and that together you can affect change.”
McCallick said she wanted to be a present ally and to offer her privilege to the crowd.
“I wanted to see the faces of the active bystanders around me, and I wanted to bear witness to the fight,” she said. “I wanted to actually do something, and I was privileged enough to be able to do this.”
According to McCallick, many other Saint Mary’s student and faculty were at the South Bend march.
“I was so incredibly proud,” she said. “Seeing [Saint Mary’s students] around me affirmed my purpose for being there. We are part of a legacy of strong women, and we been through the best of times and the worst of times. In those moments as I saw those familiar faces, I knew we could get through this.”
Junior Marilla Opra also attended the South Bend march. She said the experience was empowering.
“Everyone I talked to was friendly and had something positive to say, even if we didn’t quite agree,” she said. “The overall feeling was one of unity and hope.”
The marches were full of posters with different quotes and sayings that showed what the participants were there for. Opra said her poster included a quote from Audre Lorde that said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even if her shackles are different from my own.”
“I felt this was an important message because I recognize that I have certain privileges as a cisgendered, white female that other women do not,” Opra said. “I’m a firm advocate for intersectional feminism.”
According to Opra, a diverse group of people shared stories and experiences as part of the march.
“The best part was listening to individuals go up to the microphone and explain why they were there to march,” she said. “We got to hear stories from a variety of people — teachers, sexual assault survivors, dads, members of the LGBTQ community and even children, each with their own unique perspectives. The diversity was phenomenal.”
Opra said she did not march in protest, as many people perceived the marches to be, but rather a demonstration of solidarity.
“I took the march as a message to Trump and his administration saying that these are the rights that we have, these are our values, and if you try to take them away, we will stand together and resist,” she said. “It’s also a message of hope to those who have valid fears of some of the rhetoric that was prevalent during his campaigning process. I personally didn’t see it as a ‘Trump protest’ but instead a movement of solidarity and unity.”