- By Rachel Crawford, News Editor -
On the morning of Saturday, Jan. 20, an estimated 6,500 people gathered on Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the 2017 Women’s March. The rally kicked off at 9 am with an hour of resistance music. After the musical performances, the rally began with speakers, including Meredith alum Eiman Ali, who graduated last spring. Ali spoke to her experience as a Somali-American woman and as an immigrant in the current American political climate.
Organizers of this event worked for over six weeks to prepare. Kirby Jones, a junior and English major, says that being involved on the planning committee has been a rewarding experience. Jones got involved with the planning committee at the first meeting on Dec. 1 of last year, and she stated that it was amazing to see how quickly the details of the rally fell into place.
“I would have never imagined being able to put such a big event together on such a compressed timeline,” Jones stated, citing the teamwork and determination of members of the planning committee for the rally’s successful development.
Jones emphasized the contrast in mood and purpose between this year’s Women’s Rally on Raleigh and last year’s Women’s March. Last year, Jones said, the march took place in reaction to the election of President Trump and centered feelings of angst and frustration. According to Jones, this year’s rally had a much more hopeful tone, building on the momentum of last year and encouraging feminist activists to stay connected to the progressive movement, get involved with organizations, and plug into this year’s midterm elections.
Imani William, a Meredith senior receiving a double degree in mathematics and electrical engineering, said that she participated in the rally “to make sure the call for justice is heard and to feel reinvigorated for the fight. I was there as a Black American Muslim woman who wants a better future for all.”
Reflecting on last year’s march, William stated, “I was brought to tears by the multitude of people from different generations, races, religions, who all came together unified in spirit ready to fight for justice in so many arenas. The crowd last year seemed unending.” This year, she said that while the crowd was much smaller, “the speakers spoke with urgency, and the singers inspired action. Leaving the rally, I felt compelled to do more and I felt there were many others who were on the same page.”
Leena Torky, a senior double majoring in sociology and international studies, stated,“I participated in the march last year here in Raleigh, and this year’s was much smaller and we didn’t actually march, but it was still amazing to just listen to the speakers in the area … I was so happy to see that many of them were WOC, immigrant, and Muslim women.” However, Torky felt “disheartened by the rising amount of transphobia and white feminism in this movement…a lot of the signs did seem a little trans-exclusive or just not that productive.” Torky hopes that future rallies will be more inclusive: “I was really inspired by my close friends and all the Muslim women at the rally, but I really hope that there will be more discussions about being inclusive towards all people who are affected by this movement.”