Four Knox students gathered with hundreds of women and men of all ages outside the State Capitol building this weekend to rally and march to the polls for women’s rights. The march marked the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March of 2017.
The students held signs, chanting and protesting as they marched down the two blocks in Springfield, Ill.
Donning a purple knit hat, senior Alex Davis held a sign high above the crowd,
“When the people you love are under attack,” Davis chants, to which the students respond,“Stand up, fight back.”
The Springfield March to the Polls was organized by the local Indivisible Chapter, a grassroots organization dedicated to fighting the Trump administration. The ralliers of this march focused their attention on increasing the number of registered voters for the upcoming gubernatorial election. However, the marchers had a number reasons for attending.
Melanie Jones of O’Fallon, Ill. marched to fight racism and the policies of the Trump administration. She marched for the future of her grandchildren, her husband who is a veteran and for the Dreamers.
According to Carol Manning of Edwardsville, Ill., it was important for women to participate and raise their voices against the current presidential administration. She also believed that it was up to the younger generations of students to engage in their civic duty as well, just as her generation did years ago.
The students had a variety of other reasons for participating.
Sophomore Natasha Caudill thinks that people have forgotten and lost the momentum generated by the 2017 Women’s March. Continuing her participation in activism and staying involved in the women’s movement is important to speaking out against the government.
Davis thought the march was a great way to get Knox students involved and show their solidarity with women. However, Davis notes that a year after the election, large demonstrations of activism have left the public radar.
“People are getting tired, but we don’t get to be tired,” Davis said. “I need to show up. The only person I can expect to do something is myself. All too often we pass the buck off to someone else, and that’s how bad [stuff] happens.”
A few reasons Davis joined the march were protection of human rights and the environment. In some ways, Davis thinks the situation was already bad before President Trump was elected.
“Donald Trump might just be the catalyst that gets suburban white America to wake up and see what the reality of the United States of America is, and finally deal with some of the history and [the] present and push through to a better future,” Davis said.
To Caudill, the energy and activism created by the first women’s march has not been as present on campus since the 2017 march.
“A year later, the momentum just isn’t as strong. It’s not on everyone’s mind, and they’re not actively thinking about it,” Caudill said. “We’ve gotten used to the Trump administration and how we are as a country now.”
Davis also commented on the dwindling student activism on campus this past year. The barrage of news articles on the internet, they speculated, could be one reason there has not been as many student organized movements.
“People are just burnt out and they’re tired. Every day you get on the internet, or you read the paper and you just see all of the carnage. The world kind of seems pretty hopeless,” Davis said. “Every day it seems like more and more rights are being taken away. It’s really daunting.”
According to Davis, the only way is to move forward. In an attempt to keep activism alive at Knox, Davis hopes to organize students to attend more marches in the future through the club Alliance for Peaceful Action. Davis also encourages other clubs to communicate and figure out ways for the student body to collaborate and usher in new changes, even if it’s just for Knox.
“The student body could achieve a great amount of change,” Davis said.