This past Saturday, I joined the thousands of men, women and children in the Arkansas Women's March in at the Little Rock capitol. I'll be honest, I don't really talk about politics. I don't like the potentially harsh conversations that are often centered around politics, and while I'm sure I'd make a few friends with my political views, I'd also probably make a few enemies. But nevertheless, I wanted to see just what all the fuss was about. Women's March the day after the inauguration? Okay, sure. I'll go. And I told myself, if anyone started smashing windows, I'd bounce out of there asap.
So after a two-block walk with about 7,000 strangers, here's what I learned during the Little Rock Women's March.
1. It was literally peaceful.
Recently, protests in this country have kind of gained a bad reputation. From people breaking windows to blocking off interstates, I wasn't sure that this was something I wanted to be a part of. After all, I'm not in the mood to be in a violent environment, potentially getting pepper sprayed by police. However, throughout the entire march, I was pleasantly surprised by the attitudes of those around me. The crowd didn't seem angry or upset; they were excited and motivated. The vulgar language was kept to a minimum, and the speakers at the end of the march seemed to speak positive messages regarding change and people's rights. People of all ages were there, and many even brought their children. To say I felt completely safe was an understatement.
2. It was about several things.
Before I attended the march, I did some research about it so I'd know exactly what I was getting myself into. Naturally, I didn't want to march for something I didn't actually support. And according to the principles behind the march, I was in good shape. The principles on their website were actually kind of vague; the mission was simply to "stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country." It was also majorly centered around nonviolence, and they urged participants to not engage with any potential anti-protestors.
Because the mission was so vague to include a multitude of issues people could march for, I saw a large variety of issues represented. The most common themes I personally saw focused on Planned Parenthood's funding, LGBTQIA rights, immigration, environmental protection, and general respect for women. Naturally, some signs and chants had an anti-Trump undertone; the primary chant was "love trumps hate." But if someone asked me to describe in one word what the march was for, I wouldn't be able to tell you.
3. If I had that day to do over, I would do it again.
I'll admit, I was a bit timid going into the march. I mostly wanted to participate to gain an inside look perspective, especially for writing this post. At first, I was afraid I'd be insulted, pepper-sprayed, or blocked off by police. But the longer I marched, I realized I was surrounded by positive people simply marching for what they believed in. By all means, I'd say the march achieved the nonviolent, women-centered message it was trying to send. Plus, it was one of the biggest protests/ marches in American history, and I get to say that I was there.