The Collegian
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Richmond students attend women's march on Washington

<p>Marchers spread out across the heart of Washington, D.C., from the Capitol to the Washington Monument and the White House.&nbsp;</p>

Marchers spread out across the heart of Washington, D.C., from the Capitol to the Washington Monument and the White House. 

An estimated 2.6 million people attended the historic Women’s Marches on Washington in D.C. and around the world Saturday, just one day after Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, according to USA Today

The day after Trump, who many believe will not stand up for certain human rights while in office, was sworn in, people of all ages and identities swarmed the streets of D.C. and other cities in all fifty states and on all seven continents, marching for social, political and economic equality for all.

“Thank you for understanding that sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are,” Gloria Steinem, activist and an honorary chairwoman of the march, said to the Capitol crowd.

The D.C. crowd, which parted for older women in wheelchairs and parents pushing babies or toddlers in strollers, featured men carrying “Ally” signs and two elementary-school-aged girls atop steps leading chants of “our bodies, our choice.”

Among these hundreds of thousands of people were what The Collegian estimates to have been more than 100 Richmond students.

For sophomore Jeanette Lam, Saturday’s march provided much-needed energy.

“When we were chanting ‘my body my choice, her body her choice,’ the men in the crowd chanted the second part and we ricocheted off of them,” Lam said. “Even though I was losing my voice, the men around me didn't stop chanting so I didn't either. 

"I think that's the power of energy. ...It's contagious and magical, and today I saw a lot of powerful, magical energy and I hope to see a lot more of that in the next four years.”

Sophomore Robin Akers shared this sentiment.

“One of our chants said, ‘This is what democracy looks like,’ and that's how I felt — that I was getting to do my duty as a democratic citizen by standing up for what I believe is right,” Akers, who also attended the Jan. 14 March on Monument in Richmond, said. “The march had an exciting, passionate, even funny energy.”

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Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of D.C. yesterday, contributing to a series of marches across all fifty states and all seven continents. Photo by Claire Comey/The Collegian

According to the march's website, the event was a grassroots effort composed of dozens of independent coordinators, with a platform that became widely inclusive and welcoming to all people who wished to march for various injustices, rights and causes.

“The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us — immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault — and our communities are hurting and scared,” the march’s website said. “We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

There were so many people in D.C. this morning that the planned organized march quickly became a less-organized march across multiple streets, extending the entire mall, ending in front of Trump’s newest house.

The inclusivity of the day’s marches resonated with sophomore Joshua Kim, who felt more connected to the march after six-year-old Sophie Cruz, one of the presenters at the D.C. march, spoke.

“My parents were immigrants and had to work twice of what a citizen had to do,” Kim said. “They gave up everything for me, to give me a chance. They couldn't speak the language nor did they understand the culture, yet they still persevered for me, for my happiness and my well being. And seeing her on that platform reminded me how lucky I was to be here, and that I belonged here — that this is my damn country as much as it is anyone else's.”

The Women’s Marches across the nation were collectively the largest post-inauguration protest of all time. An estimated 400,000 to 700,000 people shut down parts of Manhattan and Los Angeles, while estimates for the total marchers in D.C. outnumbered the inauguration attendance.

About 50 of Richmond’s WILL* students shared a bus to attend the D.C. march together. Although the WILL* program itself didn’t organize the bus for the students, the WILL* directors and faculty supported any students who wanted to attend the march, Holly Blake, WILL* program director, said. 

One woman in D.C. held a sign that read, “Let’s talk about the elephant in the womb” in front of the house in which Trump intends to nominate a Supreme Court Justice who opposes abortion rights and health care coverage of contraception. Another read, “Girl power” in front of the house where Trump will likely have the most white and male cabinet since Reagan

Although Trump refrained from tweeting about the marches, he did tweet about inauguration attendance being skewed by the media.

According to The New York Times, attendance in the marches across the United States and the world “easily surpassed one million.”

For Akers, being a part of history is something she will never forget.

“Getting to be a part of what's going to be known as a historic march was one of the greatest privileges of my life,” Akers said. “Marching through Washington with the overwhelming numbers of people who were there today was an incredible experience.”

Contact news editor Claire Comey at

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