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Brandeis students turn out for Boston Women’s March

Brandeis students turn out for Boston Women’s March

By Abigail Gardener and Elianna Spitzer

Section: Featured, News

January 27, 2017

At least 50 Brandeis students attended a march of over 200,000 people that began in Boston Common last Saturday, according to the Boston Women’s March for America. The march, taking place one day after President Trump’s inauguration, called for a collective effort to resist infringement on women’s rights.

The Women’s March for America that took place in Boston was one of many, with women and men conducting similar marches in almost 700 cities worldwide, according to The Washington Post. Some of the largest marches took place in New York City, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., the city in which the original idea for the march was conceived.

Public transportation was recommended due to expected traffic and lack of street parking. Public Safety at Brandeis provided one extra Boston shuttle at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the day of the march, for a total of three shuttles at each of those times. The Common was flooded with crowds of marchers, many of whom were holding signs with quotes including, “Standing on the side of love,” and “This is very bad.” Many marchers also wore pink knit hats with cat ears.

The pre-march Rally began at 11 a.m. Speakers included Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Attorney General Maura Healey and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Some attendees climbed the trees in the Common to try and get a better view of the stage with the speakers far in the distance.

The March officially began at 12 p.m. It was a mile long and ran from Boston Common to Commonwealth Avenue. Attendees at the back of Common waited an hour or more to get to Beacon Street, where the march started. Participants took turns starting chants such as, “Love, not hate, makes America great,” and “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.” Many marchers walked arm in arm.

The crowd was predominately comprised of white women, men and children, according to Brandis Whitfield ’19. “For me, as a black woman in that space it wasn’t [empowering],” she said.

Whitfield and two friends arrived at the protest around 11 a.m. and saw that people were “just standing around.” Whitfield started chants to create energy in the crowd like, “Show me what a feminist looks like, this is what a feminist looks like.” When she and friends tried to start chants about transgender rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, attendees around them failed to chant in support. “If you want to fight for women you should be fighting for all women,” said Whitfield.

Another Brandeis participant in the march, Viola Dean ’17, felt that the ideas presented in the march fell in line with “mainstream feminism.” She saw signs depicting and referencing vaginas which “is very exclusionary of the fact that a lot of people who identify as female don’t necessarily have vaginas,” she said.

The Boston march was organized by volunteers with assistance from the Mass Women’s Political Caucus Education Fund. “We march in solidarity with all communities most affected by the hate, intolerance and acts of violence being perpetrated throughout the nation. We stand for religious freedom, human rights, climate justice, racial justice, economic justice and reproductive justice,” according to the website for the march. The website and organizers did not define specific policy or legal goals for the march.

People also attended the march to express anger at the election of President Trump. During his campaign the president said that he would attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court decision ensuring a woman’s right to an abortion within the first two trimesters of a pregnancy. He was also accused of sexual assault by multiple women. President Trump has also tweeted that he believes climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese.

Though some participants marched out of frustration, the atmosphere of the event was uplifting, according to Brandeis students. “It wasn’t an anxious … angry type situation, it was more of … everyone who was there wanted to share their positive energy and their positive vibes,” said Daniela Michanie ’19. “Even with 120,000 people there, it was a community of people who were literally so passionate about what they were marching about and passionate about getting to know one another and sort of building this coalition of people against Trump, essentially.”

A student volunteer stated that the inauguration was a primary cause for his work on the march.

“It was certainly cathartic in its own right, as a way to show all who were dispirited by the most recent wave of elections on Nov. 8 that there is still reason to have faith, there is still a city full of people who share your values and will fight for them. The March also (hopefully) served and will continue to serve as a springboard for activism,” said Zachary Steigerwald Schnall, an incoming first year at Harvard University in the Fall and the co-chair for the Campus and Student Outreach Committee for the Boston march.

The march was the first large-scale protest to take place in Boston following President Trump’s inauguration. The march is launching a “10 Actions for the First 100 Days” campaign to continue the momentum of the march and encourage people to continue to get involved. The first action asks marchers to write postcards to their respective senators to let them know about important issues and that they will continue to fight for these issues. “I wish that people wouldn’t just pat themselves on the back like we did a good job. There’s so much more to do than just stand with your signs,” Whitfield said.

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