Resist and Rebuild: Marching for Freedom in the Twenty-First Century

By Sofia Aslan

On Saturday, January 21st, between 3 and 4 million Americans made history by protesting the hateful policies of our newly elected President, Donald J. Trump. The rallies, which occurred all over the world, with the biggest crowds in Washington D.C. and New York, were organized to protect women’s rights and to have their voices heard.

Among the protesters were Beacon students, who sacrificed valuable studying time in the weekend before fall PBAs to take buses, trains, and cars to get to D.C. and other marches around the country. Many more Beaconites went to the rally in midtown Manhattan.

One such student remarked that there was a “general amped up energy of empowerment.” The peaceful nature of these protests helped spread a message of solidarity and love. In the jam-packed D.C. Metro, complete strangers sang songs such as “This Land is Your Land” and “If I Had a Hammer,” standing side by side.

The total number of people in attendance at these marches, which took place across the country and the world, vastly outnumbered the attendance at President Trump’s inauguration the day before. The message being sent was a rejection of fascism, bigotry, sexism, and racism. It was the birth of the Resistance.

Since then, additional marches and rallies have been organized to continue the fight and keep the momentum moving. There were impromptu rallies to protest President Trump’s executive order banning the residents of seven predominantly Muslim countries from traveling to the United States. Speakers for the anti-“Muslim Ban” march in Foley Square included Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and former Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer. Although the numbers were not as large as the march on Washington, they still showed the city’s willingness to continue fighting harmful federal policy. More recently, protests like the March for Science and the People’s Climate March have demonstrated the same principles.

One Beacon student said that these protests allow for “young people in society to speak up” and give them a platform to express their ideas. The student added that students “are representing those who have educated them” and allow one to “show what your school has been teaching you.” Protesting and speaking up, therefore, presents a first-hand opportunity to demonstrate the progressive values we learn at Beacon, and to show the world that we can express our views peacefully.

One way that Beacon students accomplished this was by organizing a student walk-out on Tuesday, February 7th. Hundreds of students walked out of class in the middle of the day and met up with students from other schools at Foley Square. One student who attended said that “it felt like an embodiment of student unity and power,” and that “as the body of people was moving forward, it felt like a movement against Trump” and the hate he represents. The walk-out coincided with the confirmation of Betsy Devos as Secretary of Education. This gave the protest a double meaning, as it started off as an anti-travel ban protest, and also protested the administration’s education policies. The march was covered by many news outlets including the New York Times, AM New York, and Gothamist.

These protests help to spread an idea of hope and equality that now, more than ever, must be fought for. They present a canvas for students to express their political ideas and fight for change in their government. With a long history of making change through peaceful protesting, Beacon students are taking part in a movement certain to make a timeless impact. With an administration that does not represent the views of most Beacon students, dissent can be patriotic.