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I’m still with her

Women nationwide and across the globe band together to stand up for what they believe in

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I’m still with her.

And her. And her and her.

From Antarctica to Kenya, many will argue the 21st of January will go down in history, perhaps even more than the historical day preceding it.

In almost every major city throughout the United States and many world capitals, women and men alike decided to stand up for what they believe in.

Some wanted to, as one sign indicated, show Donald Trump they would not “go quietly back to the 1950s without a fight.”

Yet, school on the 20th was subdued, as many contemplated what four years under Trump would look like. So when one of my teachers lectured us about actually doing something, and not letting our hollow words reverberate through the echo chamber of Oak Park and River Forest, I was more than ready to hit the streets of Washington D.C. the following afternoon.

So after a 13-hour cramped and sleepless bus ride, three buses full of passionate Oak Parkers clamored sleepy-eyed into the foggy Maryland morning.

I was not at all prepared for what was in store for me. As my group boarded Washington’s red line train heading to the National Mall, at every stop people piled in. Old and young, black, white, and Hispanic, most donning the famous “pussy hats,” everyone was smiling, seemingly excited for what the afternoon promised.

If the train cars were overflowing – each person almost nose to nose with their fellow marchers, Washington was swamped – the city was closed down due to protesters, chanting and screaming, some even singing “We Shall Overcome” and “This Little Light of Mine.”

The finale took place at the White House. As marchers congregated on the muddy grass, they laid down their signs on the dewy ground, creating a rainbow of messages.

Write to a senator. You may think your actions are small and pointless, but if five people believe than maybe 100 people will too. Doing so is where change grows from.”

Yet, the multitude of messages were all different. Every individual had their own unique reason to walk.

A Michigan dad chanted for a more equitable future for his daughter, while a cancer patient desperate for her health care to continue shared her story. A rape victim, terrified of “locker room talk,” silently held up her sign, carrying her burden as she trudged through downtown D.C.

When I left for the march, I knew I had to go. Maybe it was the memories of childhood lectures of “girl power” paired with my sister’s tears after the election that gave me a wake up call. But the lack of sleep and absence of showers on the whirlwind trip were well worth it because Saturday provided me with a different reason.

My reason is a little more selfish.

For the first time in a long time, I have hope. On Saturday, I was proud to be part of this country. The 470,000 marchers in D.C. showed me what democracy looks like, that being resilient and hopeful and strong does not mean guns, angry rhetoric, or putting people down. Actually, it can be  pink knitted hats, overflowing train cars, and so many people on a balmy Saturday on Michigan Ave., “we the people” were difficult to ignore.

Protesters hold signs at the Women's March in Chicago

After all, when they go low, we go high.

But as the “high” from Saturday’s adventures wears off around the globe, what comes next?

For the next hundred days, there are actions publicized by the officials of the Women’s March to take action. They provide citizens with ten things within the next 100 days to keep the hope alive, and to force conversations necessary to ensure that love is love is love.

Write to a senator. You may think your actions are small and pointless, but if five people believe than maybe 100 people will too. Doing so is where change grows from.

Have conversations with those who are different from you. Step outside our bubble for a breath of fresh air. Speak your mind, but be open to those with differing perspectives. Realize we are not all the same, and the first step to change may be realizing just that.

Read the news. Read many different versions of the news. Read Buzzfeed, but then back up and read the New York Times. Then skim through the Chicago Tribune. Be educated, and then decide and understand what you believe in. What will you march for?

If being “with her” means respect for people – no matter your race, gender, or sexuality, I want in. Let’s have a reason to be immensely proud of our country every single day, because those millions of  people around the globe who stood for respect on Saturday are not going anywhere.

After all, who really runs the world?

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I’m still with her