Thousands gathered at Boston Common with signs and signature pink hats. (Courtesy of Taylor Carito/Connector)
Taylor Carito and Nick Bramante
Over 100,000 people flooded Boston Common on Saturday in attendance of the Women’s March for America Boston following Friday’s inauguration of President Donald Trump.
With a sea of attendees covering a majority of the Common space, exuberant chants and applause echoed throughout Boston’s streets and alleys. For every chant that resonated throughout the area, there were just as many inquisitive and colorful signs sported by the crowd, bringing up commentary on a variety of topics considered relevant to this year’s political climate.
UMass Lowell students and faculty attended the event by bus and left from University Crossing. A second bus also left from South Campus sponsored by the Gender Studies program. Both reached the common in time to participate in such a momentous event of equality and acceptance.
Thousands of people wore the signature pink hat that has become a symbol for the march and its supporters. Generating an energy that endured throughout the entire march, the attendees heard from various speakers and witnessed many performances on stage before finally flooding the streets and marching around the Common.
The ceremony began with Mariama White-Hammond, the master of ceremony, who spoke about what it means to march and why the celebration was held. In her speech, she said, “We are part of a global effort, with marches in every single state in this nation, and we stand as women, as men, as people of conscience.”
Continuing on with the ceremony she spoke of her heritage as both a woman and as a person of African American descent, explaining that people must continue to be progressive.
“We have come a long way, and we have a long way to go, but we come here today to say we are not going back,” said Hammond.
Following the open speech, Claudia Fox and her daughter, Savannah Fox, spoke about their upbringing as Native Americans. They both have been peacefully protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock and said they were very proud to be speaking before the mass of people to share their story.
Several other speakers joined the stage including Boston’s mayor, Marty Walsh, and U.S. Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren. All were very empowering, ensuring the crowds to fight and advocate to continue to progress on several social issues. “We can whimper, we can hide, or we can stand and fight back…I’m here to fight back,” said Warren during her speech. “We are in marches to say we are fighting back.”
Warren continued to fire up the crowd by chanting the social issues she hopes to continue progressively fighting for and what it means to be at the march.
Her words raised high-pitched approvals from the supportive crowd. “We will not build a stupid wall,” said Warren, “We believe that sexism, racism, homophobia and bigotry have no place in this country… We believe diversity makes our country stronger.”
Attendees of the event had just as much to say as the scheduled speakers, with people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and even nationalities more than willing to express their thoughts on both the event and the political climate of the country as a whole.
More speakers entered the stage and took the People’s Oath which begins with “I do solemnly swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States to ensure…” and continues with a personal statement.
UMass Lowell alumna Olivia Richard was one of many who took the People’s Oath on Jan. 21. She said that on Feb. 25, 2009 “[her] life changed forever,” as she suffered a spinal cord injury.
Richard recalled that after proceeding down the road of recovery, the day of the Boston Marathon Bombing “changed [her] life,” coming to the realization that “there’s probably 200 new people that just joined our community: the community of people with disabilities.”
It is because of this community that Richard decided to attend events such as the Women’s March; “I’m here to fight for women with disabilities and to fill the intersections in all of our communities because the disability community has been silent. It’s time for us to reach out.”
Kathryn Bonfiglil, an attendee who was caught in the middle of the massive crowd, said that she was attending “because I believe in the constitution.” Concerned about some of the patients and family members she knows that rely on the current health care system, Bonfiglil said that we have to “take care of everybody.”
The march began in conclusion to the speakers, with waves of people funneling into the streets of Boston. Following Sen. Warren who stood at the front were several other speakers, police, volunteers and activists; thousands of people marched the one mile around the Common to show their support and dedication to their personal causes.
“[The march] makes me feel proud, but we need to do more than rally. We need to get to work. We need to take action. Trump said that the action starts now, well I’m with him; the action starts now,” said Bonfiglil.