“Show me what democracy looks like? This is what democracy looks like!”
These words echoed through the streets of downtown Denver as over 100,000 people of all ages, gender identities, races, sexualities, religions, and abilities gathered to march for women’s rights and the rights of other minorities.
The Women’s March on Washington began when Teresa Shook, a Hawaiian woman and retired attorney, created an event on Facebook for a march on Washington, D.C. the day after President Trump’s inauguration. It then exploded into an international event, with sister marches in hundreds of cities in the US and across the globe.
Though the March was undoubtedly sparked by Donald Trump’s misogynistic, ableist, racist, Islamophobic, and bigoted comments throughout his campaign and his agenda as President, the event’s organizers made it clear that the demonstration was not meant to be an anti-Trump protest, but rather “an opportunity for all participants to support social justice, human rights and equality, and to demonstrate that we will be vigilant in protecting these rights moving forward,” according to the March on Colorado’s mission statement.
I first heard about the March on Facebook. After posting what I thought were thoughtful and relevant posts on Facebook over the course of the election, the March felt like an opportunity to finally do something. It felt like an opportunity to become active, to be able to call myself an activist. I attended the March with my mother, my best friend and her mother, and my aunt and her five-month-old baby.
We boarded a packed light rail in Golden after waiting in line for over an hour in freezing temperatures and rode to Union Station in Denver, where we joined the rest of the marchers. The atmosphere within the marchers was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Some marched with signs; many wore the trademark “pussyhats” of the March; some marched quietly while others initiated chants of “love, not hate, makes America great” and “say it loud, say it clear: immigrants are welcome here!” I did not witness a single act of violence. Instead, the vibe was unity and empowerment.
My purpose in attending the March was simply to send President Trump a message: this is not who we are. America is a country that values freedom of speech, democracy, diversity, kindness, and respect. We will not be divided by your hateful rhetoric, Mr. Trump. And what better way to say that than staging what many are calling the largest protest demonstration in US history? President Trump, this is what democracy looks like.