When sophomore Rachel Watson realized she could not attend the Women’s March on Washington with her peers, she was thrilled to have a chance to participate in a local march in Galesburg, unaware of the powerful solidarity that would bind more than 500 students and Galesburg residents together.
“I think I went into with the preconceived idea that it would be more of a Knox College thing,” Watson said. “It seemed like it was all members of the community and it was really cool to see they share some of the same beliefs I do.”
At 10 a.m. last Saturday, people marched through downtown Galesburg holding signs including pharses such as, “Another World Is Possible,” “Fight Like A Girl” and “A Woman’s Place Is In the Resistance,” while chanting “Love Trumps Hate.”
The local march, orchestrated by Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies Magali Roy-Fequiere, included not only Knox students, professors and faculty but also students of Carl Sandburg College, veterans and Galesburg residents. Titled “Another World Is Possible,” the march was held to protect more rights than women’s rights.
“We believe that another world is possible and that there can be a world of more justice for all, and when we say justice we mean economic justice, social justice and a world of plenty for all,” Roy-Fequiere said. “We’re living in a moment in the United States that is a moment of deep shifts.”
Roy-Fequiere, along with Chair of Classics Brenda Fineberg and custodian diana Mackin, teamed up with junior Julia Porter to organize the march.
“This was never meant to be anti-Trump, it was more ‘Don’t take away our rights, don’t marginalize us more than we already are,’” Porter said, noting the politically charged chants and signs that were present at the march. “But, you can’t avoid the fact that he and his campaign have advocated hatred of other groups, or at least, if not advocating for it, built up a following of people that do.”
Before the march began several of the organizers had the opportunity to speak their minds about the march, the election and where they thought the country was heading after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
“I was devastated by the election,” Mackin said. “I really appreciate this march as a way to come together in a positive way. We need to remind each other that we can make a difference.”
After the march ended in front of the Galesburg Public Library, marchers were able to talk about their fears and reasons for participating. Thirty-five people met in the Library afterward to organize further efforts and discuss their concerns regarding the new administration.
“Women’s rights are so important and of course being an African American, African Americans are so integral to this country, as is every ethnic group,” Naomi Law, 73, said. “This is a beginning of a celebration for all of us. What I was thinking this morning is that the first female president is sitting in somebody’s classroom. Maybe in a junior high, or a university. Or maybe she’s sitting in the Senate or the House, but she’s somewhere.”
One Vietnam veteran, Paul Abell, 72, spoke of a Trump rally he snuck into prior to the election. At the rally he was kicked out for throwing a banner onto the stage declaring “Veterans Against Hate,” because he believes Donald Trump does not support veterans.
“I wanted to express my feeling against hate. Love trumps hate,” Abell said, explaining why he decided to march.
Destiny Otte from Carl Sandburg College said that she marched to let the politicians currently holding office know that they will be held accountable for their actions.
Kate Calkins, 55, of Galesburg, spoke in a similar strain. “This isn’t just about women. It isn’t just about Trump. It’s about our politics, our government, our ability to be represented by what the population actually wants and needs.”