Liberal Column

The Women’s March on Washington will go down in history as one of the United States’ most significant protests

From the Boston Tea Party in 1773, to the Selma, Alabama, marches in 1965, protests have a way of defining the era in which they take place. The Women’s March on Washington on Saturday afternoon will be no different. With more than 200,000 marchers expected for the event, along with 1 million people expected to attend hundreds of sister marches across the country and around the world, the march will be one of the largest in United States history.

You may be asking yourself why I, a man, will be taking part in the Women’s March. The most important thing to know about the march is that it is not just about women’s issues. Hundreds of organizations have signed onto the march, including the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and 350.org, a global climate group. This event is a sign of the solidarity between women’s groups, environmental groups and civil rights groups — the very people who will be leading the resistance against many of President Donald Trump’s unpopular policies.

As its name implies, though, the march is being led by women and centers around women’s rights. “Women’s rights are human rights” — a line from Hillary Clinton’s 1995 speech as first lady at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women — has become a rallying cry of the event, signifying how women’s issues are not just the focus of special interest groups, but rather something that affects all of us. By taking part in the march, both men and women are showing the value they place on protecting the rights of everybody.

Today I will be marching alongside my sister and my parents, along with numerous friends, an opportunity that many are not fortunate enough to have. There are people across the U.S. who want to take part in the Women’s March, but can’t for fear of backlash from their own families. This familial conflict and generational struggle, while nothing new, remains an important reminder that solidarity with those around you is something that should be fought for and taken advantage of.

One friend put it best when I asked why she was choosing to march. She told me: “Because I can.” I have an opportunity to be a part of history, to add my voice to the conversation and stand up for what I believe in, when so many don’t have that option.

In decades, when we look back on the Women’s March on Washington like we look back now on the important protests in our country’s history, we will remember the movement to amplify voices that have been muffled since Trump announced his intent to run in 2015.

That is what democracy looks like.

Cole Jermyn is a junior environmental resource engineering major at SUNY-ESF. He can be reached at cdjermyn@syr.edu and followed on Twitter @Cjermyn8.

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