The downtown metro area of Washington D.C. was so crowded that Brandy Small said she couldn’t move.
Small, who is in her second year of the Master of Arts in Communication program, along with over 470,000 people according to The New York Times convened in Washington to participate in the Women’s march on Washington.
“It was inspiring to see women from different backgrounds, beliefs and ages come together in unity for our rights in a time when they are being threatened,” she said.
The march in Washington was the largest of over 500 marches held in cities across the United Sates.
“Young people are constantly being belittled and told that we don’t get involved in our nation and this was a chance to get involved in what I believe in,” she said.
Small said she wants people to know that misogyny, racism and sexism exist and society has a long way to go before defeating the ideas that separate them. She said she participated in the march as a way to put her beliefs on display and show that she won’t choose the side of her oppressor.
“I think our voices were heard all over the world but I think our lawmakers and our president could have responded more appropriately,” she said. “I mean can you imagine what would have happened if Trump would have said, ‘I see you and I will do my best to help you.’ Instead he worried about his own media coverage during the inauguration.”
Small said she is waiting to hear an appropriate response form leaders in Washington and believes the country will take a few steps back regarding women’s rights.
She said she hopes a new wave of activism rolls over and people will keep fighting and not let leaders “fall asleep at the wheel.”
“It wont be easy but I believe in progress and I believe we are capable and this is proof,’ she said.
Senior business management and marketing major Emily McAtee said she will never forget the renewed hope of the people at the march and was astonished when she realized how many people had come together to make a difference.
“I had no idea what to expect as it was pretty outside of my comfort zone of only sharing my beliefs with my close friends and family, but as soon as I stepped foot in Washington, I knew this was where I needed to be and all my doubts disappeared.”
McAtee said she ended up spending the day with four teachers from Indianapolis and will never forget the conversations they had.
She said she marched for women, the disabled, people targeted because of their race, immigrants and the LGBT community.
“I marched because the next four years are going to difficult and scary and I want to be a voice for anyone who feels they do not have an ally in this world,” she said. “I am typically a quiet person around people who don’t know me, but in my own way, I have found my voice and plan to use it.”
Assistant professor of Communication Studies Stephanie Young said she had no idea the extent in which people would come out to the march.
“I was amazed by the diversity of the people who came out and I was impressed by the diversity of the speakers,” she said. “It was about a broad range of underrepresented people.”
Young said she became emotional after listening to six-year-old girl Sophie Cruz, whose parents are illegal immigrants; tell thousands of protesters to “protect our families.”
Cruz who jumped from speaking English to Spanish over the course of her speech chanted, “yes we can” to the crowd at the end of the speech.
“It was emotional to near such a young person speaking about being a woman in America,” she said.
Young said she thinks there will be more talk on women’s rights in the future, but there is still work to do.
“Its one thing to march, its another thing to address women’s rights,” she said.
Young said that she felt like she was a part of history and a grassroots campaign fighting against vitriol that has come against minorities and women.
“As a self-identified feminist, I was standing in solidarity against the rhetoric that was used against women, African-Americans, Muslims and the LGBT community,” she said. “I think it’s important that we participate in social change and social justice.”