[See the full gallery here.]
The past couple of months have been hard – bitter, acerbic, and divisive for everyone. People’s faith in women’s rights, LGBTQA+ rights, racial equality, and pluralism were challenged, and sometimes even derided. Hate and fear fueled both sides of the political divide. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike realized that they may have been blindfolded and led down a road that they may not be able to walk back on – by both the establishment and the populist movement. But on Jan.21, despite this demoralizing darkness, women and men across the world took to the streets and began to march: from Washington to Los Angeles to Sydney to Seoul, the global women’s solidarity marches drew out tens of thousands of supporters.
I met over two thousand attendees at the Women’s March on Seoul. Rainbow flags and Princess Leia picket signs flew high over our heads. “Resistance,” “love,” “equality,” and “human” stood boldly on posterboards and canvases. We grimaced, we smiled, we chanted, we sang. When snow began to blanket us halfway through the march, we just held onto our pickets and cameras tighter. We were activists of all ages, genders, races, and sexual orientations – and we were something bigger than we could have ever hoped to be alone.
In the midst of the flurries, a petite blonde woman, fingers chafed red from holding up her sign, shouted out “Women’s rights are human rights!” Those of us around her shouted back an echo, taking up the chant. She shrieked and smiled, as if she hadn’t expected it to catch. Slowly, people began to join in with the person standing next to them – their friends, neighbors, strangers. The chant soon rang out from the whole line.
It was a moment too perfect not to recall the famous line from the Gettysburg Address: “A government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Standing there in the fiery sea of people with a common ideal and a dream and a heart, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Lincoln wasn’t referring divisive populism or sensationalism in that speech. He was referring to this.’
A government of the people – entirely reliant on our benevolence, good will, and respect – can seem fragile at times. That doubt is completely understandable. But democracy is resilient, especially because it is made up of people, and there will always be people, championing their cause through numbing winter snow. There will always be people, eagerly stepping out from the sidelines to join the march so that the others can sneak into a cafe and warm their hands. There will always be people documenting, sharing, chanting, singing, spreading the word, believing. Our faith in democracy was not meant to rely on one man and his tweets; it was meant to be an extension of our faith in ourselves, and our will to be equal, diverse, and loving. The next four years is in our hands as much as it is in Donald Trump’s. And I promise, I will be here to tell this to you wholeheartedly, on any day you need a little boost: I believe in us.