After the march: How rallies inspire change even after the event

By: Jessica Swarner @jessica_swarner  

Mass protests and marches have always been a staple in this country, but the past year has seen a spike in this kind of political activity, especially in nationwide rallies like the Women’s March and March for Science.

We talked to some people who attended marches like these and asked how it affected their lives going forward.

 

Vanessa Villalobos

Occupation: ASU sophomore studying sustainability

Marches attended: Women’s March in Phoenix, protest against President Trump’s election at ASU, many animal rights’ protests across the Valley

Thoughts on attending Women’s March: “Marches I’ve attended have been great. I felt very supportive and positive. I felt like I wasn’t alone in this fight against injustice…It gave me a very positive outlook, because although we see all this hate and these negative things portrayed in the media, people are so much more than that. They fight for injustice, they march, they use their voice.”

Still involved?: “I am less involved now then I was before, mostly because of school in work. I still attend those I can but now it is harder to plan or to play such a big role like I use to.”

To those unsure about getting involved: “Just go. If you’re unsure then go and you can always leave, but I promise you you’ll want to stay.”

 
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Alex Niebroski

Occupation: Graduate research assistant at North Carolina State University

Marches attended: March for Science in Washington, D.C.

Thoughts on attending March for Science: Overall the experience was very positive. At the time there was a concern that certain positions with overwhelming scientific evidence had been ignored or attempted to be discredited through non-scientific methods in favor of views that were more politically expedient. It was inspiring to see that people were not going to stand idly by as this happened. I was very hopeful for the future as I saw that despite the predicted rain and the stereotypically introverted nature of scientists, many people were willing to get out of the labs and into the streets to march for this cause.”

Still involved?: “I felt revitalized to make a difference and have been more disciplined to do my part to make science easier to communicate to people. Currently, I’m working on a project to introduce what the daily life of different science positions is like to high school students trying to decide their post-graduation plans.”

To those unsure about getting involved: “If someone feels undecided about attending a march or protest for a topic they care about, I would advise them to go, because at the very least they can always leave, but all those I spoke to felt that it was rewarding to participate in our democratic practice in such a tangible way.”

 

Whitney Love

Occupation: Employment coordinator at Arizona Immigrant and Refugee Services

Marches attended: Women’s March in Los Angeles, net neutrality protest in Phoenix

Thoughts on attending Women’s March: “It was an uplifting experience. To me, the message was more ‘F Trump’ than anything, but it was powerful to see everyone come together in solidarity with literally everyone that is negatively affected by Trump culture. I remember thinking, ‘This is the first time a lot of people here have seen (let alone participated in) a concrete example of intersectional feminism.’ People weren't fighting over which issues were more important, but instead they recognized the oppression we collectively face and put a middle finger to it.

Still involved?: “Totally, I call and write my reps/senators regularly and just went to the net neutrality protest last week!”

To those unsure about getting involved: “‘Those who do nothing while witnessing injustice and wrong-doing do worse than those who commit acts of injustice’ -MLK. I think this is a good quote to live by.”

 
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Amanda Luberto

Occupation: Assistant producer for a radio show

Marches attended: Women’s March in Phoenix, Phoenix Pride

Thoughts on attending Women’s March: “I remember being actually really impressed. I've lived in the valley most of my life and it's been cool to see Phoenix take a shift when Arizona is so predominately a red state. I was kind of nervous that only a handful of people would come out or that it would be kind of problematic, but they did a really great job. Definitely the thing that stood out to me was that people took this opportunity to also talk about Arizona's history of voter fraud and sexual abuse in the Native culture and things like that. The conversation was diverse even if the "march" was just for women & remembering their rights.”

Still involved?: “I'm not as active, mostly because I'm a member of the media and it's really important to me that only a few of my viewpoints are obvious, but I always encourage people to go speak out for things they're passionate about. The right to safely protest is an incredible right we have as Americans and it should not be taken for granted. But I also encourage people to head home when/if things get violent because being involved in violent protest is the easiest way for others to not take you and your voice seriously.”

To those unsure about getting involved: “I would say that they missed a prime opportunity to be a part of something that will be in history books.”

 
 

Jessica Swarner is a contributing writer for The Sustainability Review and is currently a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication