The Future Is Us

A young, female activist’s take on the Women’s March in St. Paul

The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Saturday, Jan. 21, millions of people all over the United States and the world came together and participated in Women’s Marches to protest his presidency. As a woman who will be affected by Trump’s presidency, I felt it was my duty to take part in this historic event. Plus, on a more personal note, I wanted to be a part of a crowd of people who felt as offended by this election as I did. I knew that spending an afternoon with 100,000 others who felt the same way would be healing.

The morning of the march, I stood waiting to get on the light rail at the West Bank station with two girlfriends. When the train pulled up to the station, a collective gasp could be heard from those waiting to get on. The train was totally packed with people headed to the Women’s March in St. Paul. In lovely “Minnesota Nice” fashion, those already on the train squished even closer to let us on. I already felt a strong sense of unity among the crowd of people; it was hard not to because strangers were as close to me as they could possibly be. On that day, being uncomfortable on the light rail didn’t matter. We were all there for the same important purpose. When the train finally reached the Capitol stop, everyone cheered.

Illustrator: Katie Heywood

Illustrator: Katie Heywood

We congregated in a large parking lot at St. Paul College. The crowd there was already gigantic; people could be seen peeking out from every level of the nearby parking garage, and the huge lot was overflowing with people of all ages and backgrounds, many wielding signs and donning pink hats. My heart fluttered as my friends and I made our way into the crowd. I felt an immense sense of pride and love for all of the people around me.

Initially, there were so many people in the crowd that there was not any physical room for us to march, and so we were stagnant for about an hour. This gave me time to really absorb my surroundings. Many clever signs stuck out of the crowd. “Girls just wanna have FUNdamental human rights,” one said. Another read simply, “Science!” My favorite sign was a photo of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia with the words, “A woman’s place is in the resistance,” superimposed on her image.

When the march began, I was delighted by how many elderly women I saw participating. There were some who had walkers, and yet they were still braving the slushy, dirty, snow-covered streets. This sight in itself filled me with optimism. As a young person, I can sometimes be harsh on older people, casting them off as an entire group who still are rooted in their old-fashioned views—people who would vote for someone who wants to “make America great again.” I forget that many of the elderly women I saw have been fighting for equality way before I was even born.

We marched with our arms wrapped around each other and with hope in our hearts.

There were also a lot of children in the crowd, perched on their parents’ shoulders, walking beside them, or riding along in strollers. I was so happy to see that parents were giving their children a chance to experience a protest at an early age. I remember my parents taking me with them to protest economic inequality during the Occupy Wall Street movement. I was a pre-teen, around 12, but the experience had a big impact on me.

There was an overwhelming amount of young people at the march: women, men, and nonbinary young people—people like me—who were bright-eyed, passionate, and invigorated by the experience. My friends and I skipped and danced and yelled through the streets of St. Paul. We shouted, “We stand united, can’t be divided,” at the top of our lungs. We marched with our arms wrapped around each other and with hope in our hearts.

Protesting is our right as American citizens, and it is so important to exercise it. This election has put someone in power who has degraded many groups of people: women, people of color, Muslims, the disabled, those who identify as LGBTQ+… and I could go on. Coming together to show each other that we still care, that we support each other, and that we will stand up for love instead of hate was incredibly important for me to witness. I am part of the new generation of young people that has the power to instill change, and the Women’s March gave me hope that we can.