In the wake of the tumultuous 2016 election cycle the Women’s March took on new significance as the event gathered large crowds on Saturday following President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday.
While this year’s Women’s March was by no means the first time the event has been held, it saw higher numbers both nationally and globally than ever before as its correlation with President Trump’s inauguration and the events of 2016 brought new significance to the event for many attendees.
President Trump’s statements during the election have left women concerned about the future of everything from their healthcare to reproductive rights to LGBT+ rights.
Some students and faculty from ETSU were among those concerned and thus attended Women’s March events in Jonesborough, Asheville and Knoxville, with some even traveling as far as D.C.
Leslie Johnson, an ETSU student, attended the Women’s March on Asheville and was surprised and pleased by the turnout.
“I am so amazed by the amount of people that are here right now, and I’m so glad because this is such an important cause,” Johnson said.
The Asheville Police Department estimated that roughly 7,000 people attended the event. Meanwhile a small counter-protest of right wing pro-lifers stood on one corner along the route of the march but resulted in no clashes with the main march.
Those 7,000 people represented a diverse array of both Asheville’s women and men.
“I liked how diverse the group of people were that showed up to support the cause and that there was everyone from older women and men to very young children,” Johnson said.
Students and faculty from ETSU attending the event spent the day prior making signs and t-shirts in the Ada Earnest House basement. Kayla Davis, an ETSU junior, made t-shirts stating “Girls Just Wanna Have FUN…damental Rights” while Mary Catherine Rush, an ETSU biology major, carried a sign stating “Let’s talk about the elephant in the womb.”
“I just want to try to clear up misconceptions about reproductive rights because there is a lot of misinformation about Planned Parenthood and its role,” Rush said.
Davis found solidarity among the attendees at the event and noted the timeliness and necessity so close to President Trump’s inauguration.
“I thought the March was just really comforting to be there with so many people being absolutely supportive of women’s rights because I think Donald Trump is a bully and these crowds show that people are not willing to be bullied,” Davis said.
Many are looking towards the next four years of President Trump’s presidency with fear and concern. The Women’s March both in Asheville and across the globe was a moment of solidarity for women and marginalized groups.
As the march progressed attendees joined voices to chant “Forward together, not one step back” giving an air of hopeful community to the crowd.