by Alana Ramsay
January brought us two important marches: the MLK March and the Women’s March. Many students from Folsom Lake College participated in either one or both of these marches.
But there are many individuals who have never participated in a march and many who may not understand the importance of these marches. After all, marching doesn’t guarantee new policies or changes to the status quo.
However, that doesn’t mean that marches can’t have a profound impact. Marches are symbols of unity and progress. They have the power to affect people who don’t attend, as well as the people that do.
Marching makes a statement. According to the Sacramento Bee, The Martin Luther King March in Sacramento had an estimated participation of 25,000 this year. In larger cities, like Los Angeles and Chicago, there were upwards of 300,000 at the Women’s March, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. Both the MLK March and the Women’s march were held all over the country. That’s millions of people devoting their time to express their values and beliefs. And that’s why marches are a great way to show others who aren’t involved in the movement that the issues affect many real people.
Marches are also a great way to improve morale for those involved in the movement. For the majority of us, supporting a cause or belief isn’t done on a large playing field like Congress, but in our own personal lives. For example, many people consider themselves advocates for an idea or belief but do not belong to a large organization. Instead they spread their ideas through everyday acts and conversations. Simply seeing like-minded individuals can help us not feel so lonely in their fight. It can energize us to continue to stand up against what we believe is unjust.
It may be hard to measure the direct impacts of marches on society as a whole. But there have been major shifts in society currently and historically that may have been impacted by marches.
For example, last year was the first year for the Women’s March. It was largely spurred by the election of President Trump and the comments that he made on the campaign trail, as well as talk about defunding Planned Parenthood in 2016. Following the Women’s March, we witnessed a purging of sexual harassers and assaulters in some of our country’s biggest industry, from film producer Harvey Weinstein, to NBC journalist Matt Lauer, and—most recently—olympic doctor Larry Nassar. It’s quite arguable that the #MeToo movement, a movement that encourages women to share their stories of gender-based violence, was partly inspired by the 2017 Women’s March.
Historically speaking, marches were a large part of the Civil Rights Movement. Two of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous marches included the marches from Selma to Montgomery, and, of course, the March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. At the time of the Selma marches, Alabama continued to hold onto its deep roots of racism with discriminatory tactics used to prevent African-Americans from voting. In March of 1965, the Selma marches brought national attention to the racism African Americans faced at polling places. Later that year, in August, President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, protecting the right to vote for all Americans.
Marching is a great way to start a conversation. But we can also start conversations in our personal lives, both at home and here on campus. As black history month ends and we prepare for our campus’ Social Justice Spring, it is important to remind ourselves that we need to speak on our beliefs if we wish to see change.
Here you can find all of our articles up to 2018.