Most millennials are not acquainted with losing. For most of our lives we have experienced a presidency that has represented our values, with policy accomplishments that expanded affordable health care, legalized same-sex marriage, protected Planned Parenthood, and promoted green initiatives to fight climate change. So Trump’s election triumph was exceptionally shocking. It marks a change of tone for our country’s future. For many of us, we now have a president that we did not elect, either because we did not vote for him or, like me, were too young to participate in this election. It seems the next four years will bring setbacks instead of progress, a concept almost foreign to my generation. We believe millennials can make a difference; we’re the next generation and we must work toward a better future.
For many of us, the Women’s March on NYC was not our first protest since Election Day. This march was much quieter than the protest I had attended on November 9, 2016, the day after Trump’s presidential victory. Instead of screaming and voicing my anger as I walked with others my age for miles through Manhattan, this recent demonstration was peaceful, quiet, and slow-moving. For me, this march resembled a sit-in; thousands gathered to occupy Midtown Manhattan, instead of to attack.
The size of the crowd immediately stupefied me; I felt so small while being a part of something so large. I had expected a massive crowd, but nothing could have prepared me for the moment I got an aerial view from the bridge outside Grand Central Station. I instantly felt an immense sense of pride. I was so appreciative to live in New York, surrounded by such an inspiring and active community. It was exhilarating to exercise my First Amendment rights, and take advantage of the unique opportunities that American democracy allows. We shut the center of Manhattan down, all by attending a peaceful protest. In this new era, where so many of my friends and family feel deflated by Trump’s success, it was beautiful to stand up, raise awareness, and unite with one another to show that we will not be silent. It was breathtaking to know that I was among the more than one million people protesting around the world, to make history and demonstrate that America will still be a nation of the people.
It was also remarkable to see all generations marching together. Witnessing families of multiple generations holding signs and cheering together was profound as well as bittersweet; a grandmother held a sign reading, “I never thought my granddaughter would have fewer rights than I did.” Almost all of my friends, young fellow millennials and I, marched with our mothers. There seemed to be some unspoken importance of marching with them. Maybe because as our role models, they are the heroines we seek for advice, especially in the hard times we now face. From my mom’s perspective, she felt an obligation to show me that standing up for my beliefs matters. My mother, a photojournalist, who has attended and covered many protests, feels that not only was the Women’s March the largest demonstration, but it was the first march where simultaneous global involvement strengthened our voice and effort. She also said that it made the experience all the more meaningful to participate with her daughter, the next generation.
Throughout the march, I felt honored to stand up, be counted, and take part in history. I bonded with others in the crowd, of all ages, over our perseverance; together we planned to begin grassroots action. Posters and signs sparked feelings of unity. A little boy held a sign reading, “If your generation builds a wall, mine will tear it down!” Bright letters explained, “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” Lady Liberty signs branded phrases such as “A woman’s place is in the revolution,” “My body, my choice, my country, my voice” and “I’m with her.” It became evident that it was only the beginning.
Each of us contributed to the many people marching in solidarity worldwide, with millennials inspiring hope for everyone’s future.
Alicia Alonso is a New York City high school student.