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Millions Protested in the Historic Women’s March on Washington. What’s Next?

A beginner’s guide to advocacy and activism beyond pink hats.

January 27, 2017

 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

— Margaret Mead

 

On Jan. 21, I traveled to D.C. to march in the Women’s March on Washington. The energy and experience was inspiring, but for me and many others, it also felt a bit like standing at the edge of a cliff. The march showed the strength in our numbers and was an ample display of our rage, but we felt like it was only the beginning.

Protesters hold signs during the Washington D.C. Women’s March.

This was a central theme that emerged during the Women’s March rally: what now? The most repeated suggestion was to call, email or snail mail your representatives in D.C. to express your displeasure with the current administration. The march organizers even created a 10 actions for the first 100 days initiative that begins with sending postcards to Congress. In response to the various demonstrations following his inauguration, and in a show of his own power, President Donald Trump has signed several executive orders in his first week that include banning federal funding for international non-governmental organizations that offer abortions, defunding International Planned Parenthood Federation and immediate action on building a Mexican border wall. Calling up your state senators and congresspeople to denounce these policies reminds them that they need your vote if they want to stay in office.

Sounds like a great idea, but I live in a blue state and a Sanctuary City and our national legislators are also Democrats who have been defying Trump and his policies already.

I am left to wonder: Is there something more we can be doing outside our own echo chamber?

Absolutely.

1. Keep contacting state and national representatives.

We may live in a blue state, but that doesn’t mean our politicians always vote progressively. Locally and nationally, your elected officials represent you and you need to hold them accountable for the legislation they act on. Download apps like Countable to see how your elected officials have voted, and email and call their offices to express your frustration with what is happening in D.C. or right here at home.  

2. Get off your computer and into the streets.

The Women’s March was only the beginning, and it sparked inspiration for more marches like the March for Science and  the National Pride March. Now is the time to pull yourself out of social media slacktivism mode and join these movements.

3.  Show up to protest issues that may not directly affect you.

Amir Talai, a Persian-American actor, holds up a sign at the Los Angeles protest that read “I’ll see you nice white ladies at the next #blacklivesmatter march right?” Credit: Rudy Espinoza, Instagram: @rudyespi

As great as the march was, in the aftermath we saw some backlash from non-white feminists (as evidenced in this New Yorker article). We must strive to practice intersectionality and to show up in support of those who are less privileged than ourselves.This includes Native American groups or organizations like Black Lives Matter, of which, according to the Washington Post, many didn’t feel as supported as some of the “My Body, My Choice” marchers. 

4. Volunteer.

Donate your time to help charities and non-government organizations, especially those  specializing in health care and housing that may come under threat from federal funding cuts. There are also local and national campaigns for Senate and House seats up for grabs in 2018. Pick the causes and campaigns you care about and volunteer your time and energy to raising money, phone banking, and distributing information to voters.

5. Run for office.

There are plenty of options to running for a government office that lay well outside of running as a state senator. It can be as simple as becoming a precinct committee officer for your party in your district. Howtorunforoffice.org is a great site to help you get started.  

Protesters march at the Washington D.C. Women’s March.

In the end, if you are truly passionate and motivated about making changes in this country, the best way to make progress is to roll up your sleeves, start studying and do it yourself.

 

 



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Morgan McMurray

Morgan McMurray is a writer and editor based in Seattle. A 2013 graduate of Iowa State University, she has a Bachelor of Arts in English, Journalism, and International Studies.

Read more of her work on her personal blog and at Law Street Media.

More stories by Morgan McMurray

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