By Amanda Bertsch
On January 20th, the United States will swear in its 45th president. On January 21st, hundreds of thousands will take to the streets.
The idea of a January 21st march originated on Facebook and spread quickly. The Women’s March on Washington website now boasts a neat design and an estimate of more than 200,000 attendees. Sister marches across the country could bring out more than a million Americans in protest on Donald Trump’s very first day in office. This Q-and-A breaks down what you need to know.
- Why are people marching?
The Women’s March on Washington website states that “rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many.” The marches protest this trend of negativity, especially referring to what many see as President-Elect Trump’s derogatory comments against women and minorities.
- Who is marching?
The marches are expected to be attended by a wide variety of people of all gender identities and social backgrounds. Diverse interests are encouraged to represent themselves, and it’s likely that substantial groups from the Muslim, Hispanic, African American, Native American, disabled, and LGBTQIA+ communities will be in attendance. In addition, many marches specifically encourage sexual assault survivors to share their stories.
- What will happen during a march?
This depends, of course, on the march organizers. The Women’s March on Washington plans to hold a 3-hour rally before marching to prominent government landmarks, possibly including the White House or Capital Building. Many marches will likely copy this style with more local government landmarks.
- What is the goal of these marches?
The Women’s March on Washington website states that the march will “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office […] that women’s rights are human rights.” In short, the marches seek to bring attention to issues disproportionally affecting women and force the government to address these issues from the start of Trump’s presidency.
- Is there a historical precedent for Inauguration-based marches?
Absolutely. In 1913, at the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, a women’s march was so large that the new president was barely noticed as he arrived in Washington. Despite rough treatment by the crowds, the marchers received wide national coverage. The march brought women’s issues and suffrage to the forefront of the political scene. Marches likely draw inspiration from this century-old precedent.
- Why march on the day after Inauguration Day?
This answer is simple but two-fold. In Washington D.C., march permits are all-but-impossible to receive on a day with such heightened security. Besides, Inauguration Day is a Friday, when many possible marchers would be in work. Scheduling marches for Saturday allows march organizers more time to plan, possibly respond to Trump’s inaugural speech, and hopefully drum up larger attendance.
- Are the marches peaceful?
In theory, yes. All of the march websites specifically endorse nonviolent and legal protest. Most marchers will come with no intentions of causing harm or creating trouble. However, it is important to note that no movement, and especially not a grassroots one, can be responsible for the actions of every one of its adherents. Violence from a very small minority of the marchers is possible.
- Is this a valid form of political discourse?
This is, of course, a personal decision. Marches have a well-documented history as a tool for social change, but some argue that a march with such ill-defined goals is nothing more than a good headline. In any case, the hundreds of thousands of Americans committing to these marches clearly believe in their political power.
- Where’s the nearest march?
The nearest march to Tri-City Prep is in Prescott, starting at noon on Saturday near the square. Sister marches across the country can be found at https://www.womensmarch.com/sisters.
- Where can I get more information?
The Women’s March on Washington website is a good resource, as are the local websites of sister marches.