Metro, Top Story, Politics

Boston Preps for Its Own Women’s March

Update, Jan. 20, 2017, 11:03 a.m.: Since publication, a BC-specific contingent has been organized to attend the Boston Women’s March. The event is not officially sponsored by the University. People wishing to attend the march with the group can meet up at the Reservoir T stop at 10 a.m. Saturday morning. The organizers have not yet responded to request for comment.

This Saturday, not even 24 hours after Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States, downtown Boston will fill with attendees of the Boston Women’s March for America.

Beginning at 11 a.m. on Jan. 21, 40,000 people of all genders, ages, and races will gather in the Boston Common, at the corner of Beacon and Charles Streets. There, a selection of speakers and performers will begin the event and continue speaking before the crowd until 12 p.m., at which point the march will commence. Until 2 p.m. marchers will follow a 1-mile route that loops down Commonwealth Avenue and Clarendon Street before returning to the Common where the March will end.

One of what is now 300 similar marches occurring across the globe following the Inauguration, the Boston Women’s March for America began as a grassroots event inspired by the Women’s March on Washington. The impressive size and reach of the Washington event, which is projected to draw at least 200,000 marchers to the nation’s capital on Saturday, inspired activists across the country to create similar events in the cities that they called home—including Boston.

In an effort initially pushed forward by local volunteers, the Boston Women’s March quickly gained attention and traction. The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus stepped in to sponsor the March, and well-known figures—such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09—have announced that they will join the initial series of speakers and performers to join the marchers.

“I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with women and people of all backgrounds from across Massachusetts at the Boston Women’s March for America,” Warren said in a press release. “This gathering is a chance for us to come together to make clear that we believe in basic dignity, respect, and equal rights for every person in this country, and that we are committed to fighting back against bigotry in all its forms.”

Volunteer organizers began planning and promoting the Boston Women’s March in early December. The event quickly gained interest on Facebook and—although on a smaller scale than the D.C. March—over 40,000 people have currently pledged to attend the March on Saturday. If this number of projected attendees proves true, the Boston Women’s March could be one of the largest marches in the city’s history (the current record holder is the 1969 peace rally). Regardless of its place in Boston history, the March will be the most widely-attended gathering following the election of Trump.

The unique importance of this event is not only evident from this huge number, but also from the stories featured on the March’s website. From tens of thousands of marchers planning on attending, a selection of people have written short pieces explaining why they will attend the March. With some marching for reasons that range from their personal rights or the rights of those unable to march for themselves to the threats posed to the environment, these short stories highlight the recent emotions that have surfaced within Americans in the months following the election.  

Although the March will take place immediately after the Inauguration, it was not organized as an anti-Trump demonstration. As Zack Steigerwald Schnall, the youth and student organizer for the March, explained to The Heights over email, organizers hope that the March will unite Bostonians from every imaginable background and community and allow participants to march in solidarity with communities that feel threatened or marginalized in the modern world. Organizers also hope to remind leaders in America, and across the world, of the values of freedom, equality, dignity, and acceptance on which the country is built.

Steigerwald Schnall also noted that Boston, with its rich and complex history, is an ideal choice for such an event to take place. In the city where the American War of Independence began, Saturday’s events will be unique in that they allow citizens to directly continue the American legacy of self-advocacy and free thinking.

Although the official title is the Boston Women’s March for America, Steigerwald Schnall emphasized that this march will welcome the participation of anyone interested.

“We welcome everyone to attend the March in affirmation of each other’s lived experiences,” Steigerwald Schnall wrote in an email. “If we can raise awareness throughout the broader community and send a signal to the rest of the world that we will not tolerate intolerance, the March will have been a success.”

As Saturday draws closer, Steigerwald Schnall offers advice to those hoping to attend the event. Marchers are encouraged to make signs to hold while marching, and to bring umbrellas in case of rain. For those concerned about getting hungry, worry not, for food trucks nearby will have food available for purchase.

Each attendee will have the opportunity to participate in something that will make history, and Steigerwald Schnall encourages interested participants to register online. Currently, no student groups from Boston College have stepped forward to organize a contingent from the University.

Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press

January 18, 2017