Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
People from all around the Greater Philadelphia region gathered in the city for the Women’s March on Philadelphia on January 21, one day after the inauguration of Donald Trump. Chanting “Whose rights? Our rights!”, protesters marched along Benjamin Franklin Parkway from Logan Circle to Eakins Oval.
Prior to the event, organizers estimated around 20,000 to 30,000 people would turn out. However, a spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney indicated turnout for the march was closer to 50,000.
The march accompanied numerous other marches around the globe, including the Women’s March on Washington, which drew more than 500,000 people, according to city officials. All in all, over 3.2 million people marched in cities across the United States, and that figure is expected to continue to rise as crowd data from 200 outstanding cities both here and abroad come in.
Though the march was designated as the “Women’s March on Philadelphia,” the event attracted a wide swath of people with a variety of concerns about the current administration. Signs at the event included concerns about Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin, climate change, abortion, contraception, the electoral college, immigration reform, and many other causes. One particularly powerful sign at the march featured a Muslim woman draped in an American flag-themed hijab, with the caption reading “We the People.”
In general, the people in attendance echoed sentiments about standing up for the underprivileged and underrepresented. One woman, a social worker who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, said she worked to help the underprivileged every day, but felt she needed to do something more.
“I needed to do something else on a personal level to really help feel like there was the ability to promote change and do something different and feel like I have a voice,” she said.
Another woman, a student from Arcadia University, said she was there to stand up for women and their bodies.
“I’m here for my body, my rights, the people around me, for people to recognize that women deserve as much respect as anyone else,” she said.
The event even attracted women from the women’s marches of the 1970s. An 85-year old woman who identified herself as Pat insisted the march was for women’s rights, not about Trump.
“We’re marching today for women’s rights. We can forget [Trump] and just talk about why we’re here, which is for women’s rights,” she said.
In addition to causes like climate change and immigration reform that were also represented at the march, many held signs bemoaning the spread of fake news. Jen R., a digital marketer, said that though she was there to support women and mothers like herself, she also saw fake news as contributing to the problem.
“People need to think with a more critical mind about the facts they’re being told,” she said.
Many Swatties, in addition to attending to March on Washington, also attended the March on Philadelphia. Blake Oetting ‘18 saw the demonstration as a way to unify resistance against the Trump administration.
“I’m here to show support every contingent of this country who will be directly affected by Trump’s election, and who have already been affected,” he said.
Clare Conley ‘20 said she and other women had already been affected by Trump’s past words and actions, and felt like she had to fight back.
“After seeing Trump win, it’s like saying I’m a second class citizen, and I’m certainly not,” she said.
Once the demonstrators arrived at Eakins Oval, just before the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the organizers held a rally featuring music performers, business leaders, and politicians.
As Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney declared “Women’s rights are human rights!”, a nervous energy ran through the crowd. In the wake of Trump’s inauguration, many were worried and frightened about the future, but the rally seemed to strengthen their resolve and resistance against the administration.
While many different causes were represented at the event, the protesters were firm in what they wanted the administration to do: heed their calls.
“Look at all the people and what we represent, because government is for the people, not against the people,” Conley said.
“[The government] has to stand up for people in your communities, and that they have an incredible responsibility to do the work for us,” Oetting said.
“I would want them to hear and just see us. We are here, you cannot push us down,” the Arcadia University student said.