Thousands of protesters gathered in the Boston Common on Saturday, Jan. 21 for the Boston Women’s March for America, standing in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and hundreds of similar protests across the nation and around the world.
Students from Boston College were among the crowd of around 175,000 people that flooded the Common and spilled into the Public Garden across the street.
Molly Newcomb, MCAS ‘18, and Olivia Hussey, MCAS ‘17, started a Facebook event encouraging BC students to meet at the Reservoir T-stop at 10 a.m. to travel into the city together.
“We knew that many students were planning on attending the march, and we hoped to present a united BC student front,” said Hussey. “There were instances in the fall in which BC students protested on campus regarding the national political climate, so we wanted to connect BC students with the national march and mission.”
By 9:30 a.m., the MBTA was so crowded that the trains could not stop at the Reservoir stop. Students walked down the street to the Cleveland Circle stop on C-Line, where they were packed tightly together on the T for the ride into Boston.
Although Newcomb and Hussey were unable to gather all the BC students together, they estimated that they had been in communication with at least 150 students who attended.
As protesters continued to file into the Common, activists and elected officials including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey took the stage around 11 a.m.
Markey reminded the crowd of Massachusetts’ long history of leading revolutionary change, from the Revolutionary War to becoming the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2003. Walsh and Healey promised that Massachusetts will lead the fight back if the Trump administration attempts to reverse progress on health care, women’s rights, and the environment.
“We can whimper. We can whine. Or we can fight back,” Warren declared, calling on her constituents to fight for affordable healthcare and to protect the rights of women, immigrants, blacks, Latinos, and LGBTQ+ people.
Although many were too far away to hear, the protesters stood patiently for more than an hour, clutching homemade signs and occasionally joining in the applause. The weather was sunny and unusually mild for January in the northeast.
Around 1 p.m., the crowd filed slowly onto Charles Street and began the mile-long route down Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue.
The crowd was made up of people of all ages, ethnicities, religious affiliations, and socioeconomic backgrounds. College students walked alongside middle-aged adults, senior citizens, and even families with young parents pushing strollers or clutching the hands of their children.
Many women and even men wore knit, homemade pink “pussy hats” with cat ears, a nod to Trump’s crude and demeaning remarks about women in the leaked Access Hollywood tape.
“I was inspired and shocked [by the size of the crowd],” said Maddy Prince, MCAS ‘20. “I wasn’t really sure what it would like, but the masses of people and the diversity of those people were truly amazing.”
Many marchers held up signs protesting a variety of issues they considered most important, including sexual assault, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ+ rights. Several signs condemned Trump’s policies regarding Muslims, Latinos, and immigration with slogans such as, “I Love My Muslim Neighbors” and “Build Bridges, Not Walls.”
Numerous other signs urged Trump to release his tax returns, something he had previously refused to do, even though a WhiteHouse.gov petition calling for him to do so recently reached over 140,000 signatures. Others protested Trump’s cabinet picks, whose positions on climate change and school vouchers threaten to harm the environment and shift funding away from public schools.
Chants including “This is what democracy looks like” and “Women’s/immigrants’/LGBTQ+/Muslim rights are human rights” were popular. Others preferred to lead the surrounding marchers in songs of patriotism and inclusion, such as “This Land Is Your Land.”
“I felt like I absolutely needed to go to the women’s march to stand in solidarity with people that were attacked and disrespected by Donald Trump’s campaign,” said Gracie Marino, MCAS ‘20. “I also went because I believe that there is enough love and acceptance in America to overcome his hateful rhetoric and actions, and I think it was important that there were huge masses of people there so that point was abundantly clear.”
Since the march is over, it is time for the protesters to turn their attention to how to sustain the energy and passion from this movement through the next four years.
“Every time Trump does or says something degrading about a person or a group of people, I hope that this community speaks up and speaks loudly about how hateful actions are totally unacceptable,” said Marino.
She also commented on the importance of ensuring the protesters vote in future elections for candidates who will stand up for their constituents’ values and beliefs.
“The most important thing is to remember and to remind others that there is power in numbers,” said Prince. “Being united and standing with the people that are being put down or oppressed for being the “other,” is something that a large number of us believe in.”