By Shanaya Day
More than 50,000 women, men, and children attended the march in Philadelphia Jan. 21. Protesters marched from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Philadelphia Art Museum chanting, “Women’s rights are human rights,” and singing, “We shall overcome” while carrying posters with messages opposing President Donald Trump’s administration.
Marchers sought to raise awareness of Trump’s statements, views, and policies on women’s rights along with several other causes, including LGBTQ rights, healthcare reform, immigration reform, and climate control. While the largest Women’s march took place in the nation’s capital, more than 150 sister rallies were reported all across the world, including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Boston.
Curators of the Philadelphia event expected only 35,000 attendees to be present.
“I still can’t believe that Donald Trump is the leader of the free world,” said Melissa Oliver, an avid blogger and photographer.
Oliver, 17, marched through the city wearing black boots, a black head wrap, and a sign that read, “Pence, homophobia is gay” on one side and “taking back our rights,” on the other side. As a member of the LGBTQ community, Oliver said that she fears what may happen to her LGBTQ friends and their rights.
One of the worries stems from Trump’s support of North Carolina’s House Bill 2 Law, which restricts the right for those who are transgendered to use the bathroom of their choice. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), HB2 is the most extreme anti-LGBTQ measure in the country.
Vice President Michael Pence is also a consistent opponent of gay marriage. As governor of Indiana in 2015, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law which protects businesses and religious groups from punishment if they deny services to LGBTQ members.
Another marcher, Melau Lakew, 40, an economics professor at Stockton University, believes that the Trump administration is endangering many liberties that were once in the past, not only women’s rights, but quality education as well.
On Aug. 24 during a campaign rally in Tampa, Fla., Trump proposed to eliminate or drastically cut out the U.S. Department of Education and invest $20 billion towards school choice, a policy that would allow students and their parents to pick the school of their choice to attend and the services that work best for them. His goal is to provide school choice vouchers to every disadvantaged child in America.
Approximately 490,000 teacher positions could be eliminated – 14 percent of all K-12 public school teachers worldwide – if this plan goes into effect.
Lakew and his wife, who is also an educator, have participated in many marches to secure their rights.
“We’ve been doing this for years,” said Lakew. “Never give up and always fight for what you believe in.
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