Kristin Hohman & Danthea Redwood
Editor-in-chief Staff Writer
On Jan. 21, like so many times before, we made the familiar drive to downtown Cleveland. But instead of the recognizable wine and gold, or the red and blue of the home teams, the crowds were donning pink.
Roughly 15,000 people attended the Women’s March in Cleveland to protest the incoming administration and show support for women’s rights and basic human rights.
At 10 a.m., before the march began, we listened to several inspirational speakers including, U.S. Representative for the 11th District of Ohio Marcia Fudge and Councilwoman Shontel Brown.
“I’m standing with you and I want you to stand with me because if we don’t we’re going to lose everything we’ve ever fought for,” said Congresswoman Fudge.
The Cleveland march was organized by Claudia Plasma and Laura Seagraves, both physics graduate students at Case Western Reserve University.
“Preconceived ideas about what politicians and scientists look like prevent people from judging your abilities based on our accomplishments and the knowledge we demonstrate,” said Seagraves. She went on to explain that when she was taking her graduate school entrance exams, the administrator asked several times if Seagraves was in the right place and told her, “You don’t look like a physicist.” Seagraves said she was the only woman in the testing center. As she finished her story she said boldly, “This is what a physicist looks like.”
“We should build a wall against sexists, racists, and discrimination of any sort,” said Plasma, who came from Greece to study in the U.S.
Women’s rights weren’t the only topics being discussed. Racism, LGBTQ rights, and climate change we just a few of the other issues at hand.
What surprised us the most was, not just the sheer number of people, but the diversity of all involved. Black, Latina, and white; male, female; Christian, Muslim; young, old; gay, straight, or transgender – it didn’t matter. All were welcome.
“We must join across racial, ethnic, religious, socioeconomic lines to bring this country back to women,” said Councilwoman Brown.
The march started in Public Square, headed north on Ontario St., then turned onto Lakeside Ave., went south on East 9th St., then made the turn onto Superior, ending back at Public Square. The crowd was so large, it took almost 90 minutes for all of the marchers to compete the route.
At one point, we remember looking ahead, but my view was blocked with hundreds of protest signs.
The route was full of supporters, some too elderly to walk any farther, others just cheering on the various causes. Some even stood on top of parking garages to take pictures, while dozens of cars beeped in support as they drove by us.
“When we say ‘no justice, no peace’, we only mean we want to agitate the status quo,” said Councilwoman Brown.”We don’t mean we’re going to be violent; this is a nonviolent movement.”
In that, Brown was right. The Cleveland Police reported no incidents or arrests during the event.
The original march was planned for Washington D.C. Yet, hundreds of similar marches popped up across the globe. Not only were marches held in almost all 50 states, but also in cities like London, Berlin, Sydney, and Capetown, and were spread across all seven continents – yes, even Antarctica. There were 673 ‘sister marches’ in total.
Estimates poured in throughout the morning: over 400,000 in New York City; 250,000 in Chicago, where the turnout was so large, organizers had to cancel the march and just hold a rally; over the 500,000 expected marchers at the flagship event in Washington D.C. Each time a new estimate came up on social media, we were baffled by the sheer size of the movement. All totaled, over 3 million people worldwide participated.
“This march is a small step in educating each other,” Plasma said, “and pushing onward to a better and more inclusive future where every person no matter race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or economic status can express themselves.”