View from the square.

The day after Inauguration Day, I joined more than 6,000 women, men and children at a march in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. I went to march in Seneca Falls, New York, not far from where I grew up. It’s hard to put into words just how much the march impacted me, and the people around me. Like many around the United States and the world, I am still devastated and furious over the results of the presidential election.

The Women’s March gathered together in all fifty states and over 30 countries, on every continent including Antarctica, to stand together for women’s rights, for human rights, for all of us. The mission was to send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. I believe the Women’s March is the beginning of a global movement to defend and advance human rights in the current political climate and beyond.

Since November 8th, I have run through all the stages of grief, except for the last one — I will never accept this. Not when accepting and internalizing this type of bigotry, racism and misogyny means negatively impacting the lives of young girls and women around the world. When it means a dimmer future for all of us. No thank you.

Sage, her sister Cheyenne, and grandmother Martha Issing.

My grandmother, sister and I carried signs, using three key quotes that really expressed how my family felt. Hillary Clinton’s “Women’s Rights are Human Rights,” Malala Yousafzai’s “We cannot succeed when half of us are held back,” and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.”

Arriving to the march and taking our places at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park was absolutely inspiring. Slowly, the square my sister and I were standing in was filled with people until we were standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the crowd.

It was a very surreal moment. I was standing in the same square where 169 years ago on the same spot, 300 women and men began the fight for women’s rights in the United States. There were many different speakers, but they all came back to the same message: that today is a call to action to be vigilant activists now and especially over the next four years. That all of us are here today making history and we will not be bullied into silence.

During the march, there was such a sense of joy, love, optimism and hope, and the energy was palpable. My family and I ended the march early, but sat on a nearby bench and watched for 20 minutes until the last of the march had passed us by. A park ranger told us there was an estimated 6,000-8,000 people in attendance.

A child along the parade route.

Physically being with thousands of other people marching for equality made me feel less alone, and more a part of a wider community. I came away from the march feeling hopeful and further resolved to fight in whatever way I can to protect my rights and the rights of my fellow Americans, as well as worldwide.

I left the march feeling joyous, optimistic about the future and hopeful for the first time in a long time. And when the winds inevitably shift and my fellow humans are fearful, I’m going to remember how I felt that day. I felt powerful, strong and a part of something bigger than myself. I saw so many little girls in pink hats carrying signs that said things like “Girls with dreams become women with vision,” “Make America Tolerant Again,” and “Love Trumps Hate.” When so much of the future is right in front of you, how can you not be optimistic about it, no matter how hard things might be for Americans during the next four years and for the world at large?

The Seneca Falls solidarity march was my first time attending an activist rally, and will not be my last. Now more than ever, I am more dedicated to fight for women’s/human/LGBT/POC rights. In the words of Hamilton the musical, “What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” Hopefully I will see much more positive change in my lifetime, but in the meantime, I am going to fight for all of the little girls who I saw at my march today, and for all children. We all are worthy of respect and love and deserve the world. I have to believe that things will get better, in the United States and worldwide, and that we won’t stop progressing toward a better future for the next generation.

-Sage Daugherty
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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