Four Steps Forward, One Step Back: Atlanta Marches for Social Justice

  |  Topic: I heart ATL, Identity, My Story, Politics
By Sarah Lucas

Today I had the pleasure of attending one of the most uplifting events I’ve ever been to in my life. This was the Atlanta March for Social Justice & Women. The Atlanta Police Department estimated 60,000 people were there, covering the streets of downtown Atlanta. It was just one of many marches planned across the world in response to Donald Trump becoming the nation’s 45th president. As I arrived to Atlanta’s event near the Center for Civil and Human Rights, I could feel the determination and desire everyone there had to get their voices heard.

The first person I talked to was Malia Jennings, 15. She carried a sign that read “Hear my voice.”

“It means that we march for a reason, we have our reasons, people are people, and we all have love inside of us,” she explained. “So we should love each other as humans. God creates us as humans to love each other.”

I asked Jennings about how she thinks Trumps presidency will affect her, and she hesitantly responded, “Um, I’m not sure really. I’m only 15. I’ve been in the comfort of the United States, you know? This has never happened to me.”

“When I was younger, I didn’t look to presidents much, but as I got older and when Barack (Obama) entered into presidency that’s when I started realizing these people have roles,” Jennings added. “But with Trump, I don’t really know.”

Across a large crowd of demonstrators, another sign caught my eye. It read: “Rise Up ATL Nasty Women.” Kirsten Shell, 33, of East Atlanta held it up.

“This is a great time to energize women of Atlanta,” Shell said. “And given that it’s Falcons weekend, I just had to put a little Rise Up in there.”

One thing I noticed was the large number of mothers who brought their children to the march. Harriet Weissman was with her two daughters: Lainey, 11 and Deidre, 13. Harriet was moved to tears immediately after I asked her why she’d brought her daughters to the march.

“How do I say it without crying?” Weissman said. “Because it’s important to me to show them what a strong woman and what a strong community of women look like, and to not let hate and racism and bullying overcome what they know is right.”

One of the many things on Weissman’s sign said “#Neveragain.” She told me that one of the most important things about being a Jewish American is “making sure that what happened back in World War II in Nazi Germany never happens here.”

Another mom, Molly Pratt, 28, brought her 6-month-old and 2-year-old daughters to the march. When I asked her about her sign, “In a world with Voldemort be/raise Hermione,” Pratt explained that it is important in her eyes to “raise women that are strong and brave.” Memories of marches Pratt participated in with her mother, such as the Million Mom March, inspired her to leave the same impact on her children. “My mother instilled the knowledge that you have to get involved and have to stand up, and I want them to have the same thing.”

Throughout the day, the things and people I saw left a profound impact on my heart, as I’ve never been present at an event where that extraordinary of an amount of people have come together for a common cause. The energy of the crowd was infectious, and the positive attitude of everyone there (despite the recent events that propelled the march) was simply awe-inspiring. Being surrounded by thousands of strangers who care about you is an indescribable feeling, one that will definitely motivate me for years to come.

Sarah is a sophomore at Milton High School.

VOX was at the march Saturday, and will share a variety of perspectives and stories throughout the week — from mothers and daughters to LGBT youth and more.  Want to share your story? Teens can email media@voxatl.com

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