Progress is not always an easy road to travel. Many roadblocks stand in the way, hampering some voices. In a show of solidarity on Jan. 21, 2016, five million worldwide marched regarding many of the issues facing America. The Women’s March on Washington extended throughout the world with every age, gender and race represented. What started as a movement in protest of President Donald Trump’s lack of respect for women and their rights became a symbol for additional neglected issues, including constitutional, civil and minority rights.
Paula Usrey, associate professor of communication, was one of over 100,000 people who marched in Portland, Oregon Saturday, Jan. 21. “I saw it as a ‘people’s march’ for dignity, respect and social justice. The causes were as diverse as the individuals who marched. Yet we marched in solidarity,” Usrey said. “One of the chants that we kept repeating was ‘This is what democracy looks like.’ To me, that was very true. The marches encouraged people to get engaged and hopefully stay engaged by being more politically aware and active. I personally think it would be wise for more students to take Charles Young’s U.S. Government class.”
Usrey dressed for the march as Susan B. Anthony, a pioneer of women’s rights in the 1800s. Anthony lived during a time in America when women had limited rights, including not being able to vote. “My skirt and cape were vintage – worn by women from another time who did not have the right to vote. I also marched for them.”
Judith Osborn, associate professor of history, Melinda Benton, journalism, Susan Rochester, art, and Nancy Nowak, developmental educational, retired, joined Usrey in Portland’s streets. “I marched for the first amendment, the foundation for all our freedoms. I also marched for kindness because the language of abusers shouldn’t come from government,” Benton said.
Rochester echoed Usrey and Benton. “Why did I march? Because women’s rights are human rights. Because it’s important to be active participants in our democracy. I chose to march in Portland because women’s rights have, in the past, marginalized women of color. I wanted to march with a diverse crowd and hear the voices and concerns of as many people as I could” Rochester said. “It is essential that we all speak our truths and advocate for the betterment of all. Nothing is taken away from any of us if someone’s life improves or if they gain more rights. Human rights aren’t like a pie, where giving a piece to someone means less for you.”
Jan Woodcock, associate professor social science, went to Washington D.C. to march. “This 2017 march seemed so positive and hopeful and I am pro a lot of things. I am pro-student, pro-education, pro-UCC, pro-Douglas County, pro-kindness, pro-underdog, pro-happiness, pro-second chances, and pro-social justice,” Woodcock said. “I went to Washington D.C. because I love my students and I want them to have every possible chance at success.”
Freddy D Gompf III, The Mainstream alumni and TOP program assistant attended the march in Eugene Oregon. “Attending the march, and seeing the all the marches worldwide, re-affirmed something that I have been hanging onto since election day: That the election of Donald Trump does not reflect who we are as a nation. The marches that occurred the day after his inauguration are a better reflection of who we are,” Gompf said.
In a post-truth era, where “objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief,” the facts stand as is. History and progress was made in a peaceful fashion.
Reports indicate that out of the over 3 million U.S. participants, no arrests were made. The Portland police stated the march was 100 percent peaceful. Gompf noticed this as well in Eugene. “I was struck at the march by how happy, hopeful, and peaceful everybody seemed. I actually joked to the friends with whom I attended the march that I felt as though we should be angrier. It reassured me that we can effectively oppose this administration and create meaningful change.”
“I saw it as a ‘people’s march’ for dignity, respect and social justice. The causes were as diverse as the individuals who marched. Yet we marched in solidarity,” Usrey said. “One of the chants that we kept repeating was ‘This is what democracy looks like.’ To me, that was very true. The marches encouraged people to get engaged and hopefully stay engaged by being more politically aware and active. I personally think it would be wise for more students to take Charles Young’s U.S. Government class.” -Paula Usrey