Why They Marched

Athens news, News

 So they marched, what’s next?

The march, the message 

Shock, fear and anger: three emotions that resonated with many Americans as the election results surfaced, naming Donald J. Trump the 45th president. On the night of the election, Rebecca Shook, a retired attorney, took to Facebook urging her peers to march on Washington and stand up for the rights that Trump was threatening to take away. It wasn’t long before her post grew into a movement and what came to be known as the Women’s March on Washington.

The march took place on Jan. 21, one day after President Trump’s inauguration. For those who couldn’t be in Washington, millions of women and men marched in more than 600 sister marches around the nation, demanding not only rights and equality for women, but rights and equality for all.

Hitting hard and close to home

Considering the magnitude of the event, some found it difficult to find  personal relations to such an occurrence. So some Athenians brought it down to a smaller scale on Jan. 21 by showing their support here in the Classic City.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Kramer.

Roughly 700 people attended a march in Athens on the day of the Women’s March. One participant, Alison Tritschler, marched to rediscover her passion for social justice and equality. Standing in a crowd of people who shared her same beliefs, Tritschler said she felt more at home than she has in her first year at UGA.

“I hope to see equal rights between men and women… however, in the moment, the thing [I am] most concerned and focused on is President Trump’s approach on Planned Parenthood,” Tritschler said.

Students get involved

“On the day after the election, when all the results came in, I cried,” said Jaime Conlan, a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Georgia, from Roopville, Ga.

“My favorite part was the fact that everyone was smiling.”

Given that UGA is a liberal arts college in a blue town, Athens was in a state of unrest following the results of the election. Although there was a local march here in Athens, many UGA students felt led to participate in something bigger and more inclusive. Conlan described her own and her friend’s participation in the march in Atlanta as an inclusive and unifying experience.  

“My favorite part was the fact that everyone was smiling,” Conlan said. “Here is this group—over a million strong—resisting a president and standing in the pouring rain with smiles across their faces and love in their hearts.”

Despite the long drive, rainy weather and being a self-described introvert, Conlan expressed her gratitude to be involved with a group that was uplifting and shared her concern.

Rights and equality for all

“I want to still have the liberty, as a gay man…”

Among the sea of women at the Women’s March were thousands of men. 

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Aside from women’s rights, many marched in support of other human rights, including environmental, educational and LGBTQ rights.

“I marched so that none of the freedoms we have fought for in this country are lost during this presidency,” said Jay Horton, 20, a senior public relations student at the University of Georgia.

Photo courtesy of Jay Horton, center.

Horton, of Rome, GA, spent the day peacefully protesting for LGBTQ rights with several friends at a sister march in Atlanta. “I want to still have the liberty, as a gay man, to marry whomever I choose after Trump’s four years is up,“ Horton said, on why he marched. “I have seen small change [in the LGBTQ community], but it is hard to measure and there is still so much work to be done.” 

Jay says his activism won’t stop with this march and it only inspires him to become more politically involved. He plans to stay up-to-date with any changes in policies by calling state representatives and senators. If the opportunity ever presents itself once more, Horton exclaims, “I will march and protest again.”

The organizers of the Women’s March are hard at work planning more ways to stay involved. The movement will live on until the protection of rights is secured and justice is restored.

By: Macie Banks, Madison Beasley, Allison Atkins, Heather Bryan

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