By: Jessica Colburn
The second annual Women’s March took place in San Diego on Saturday, January 20, 2018. The overall theme of the march was “Hear Our Vote”. It was a happy accident that this march happened while I was in the midst of researching for my contribution to PIAC’s series on voter fraud, and I couldn’t help but feel slightly overwhelmed by the importance of that theme. The organizers put together a fun event that, on the surface, looked like a sea of people chanting and laughing and having fun, but there was a serious undercurrent to the march. The people who participated did so for a variety of reasons; to encourage voters to support vital issues like women’s rights (of course), but also human rights, social justice, and environmental concerns.
Every one of the speakers delivered a well-received message of hope, inspiration, and inclusiveness before the march began. We heard from Senator Toni Atkins, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, and Vanessa McCullers from Moms of Black Boys United. In a moving display of acknowledgment and inclusiveness, Elder Nancy Nagle of the Santa Ysabel Kumeyaay Nation blessed the march. In keeping with the theme of the day, volunteers helped people register to vote at the end of march route. Men and women lined up to fill out their forms, talking and laughing with each other while they waited. I appreciated how the march kicked off with inspiring words and calls to action, and it finished with a concrete way for participants to take part and register to vote.
The crowd was huge, energetic, and diverse. It had the potential to be chaotic, since there were so many languages being tossed about, and there were men and women from different countries, ethnicities, and religions squeezed together. Somehow, though, among the noise and the closeness, people reached out and connected with each other. I talked to a woman in her 70’s who had a sign strapped to the back of her wheelchair, and I did my best to learn a Spanish chant from an older Mexican gentleman. I listened as Kumeyaay children sang a song in their native language. Standing in the midst of such a crowd, I felt optimistic about our nation’s future. It was reassuring and heartening to know that so many thousands of people shared my concerns and my desire to take action.
This inclusiveness and energy was incredible. Looking around me, I realized that THIS is what democracy looks like. This is what diversity, equality, and empowerment look like. This is what voters look like. These people who marched with me, who reached out and held hands with each other and laughed as we braved the chilly San Diego weather, are the people our government is supposed to represent. Being faced with this visual representation of such an abstract idea was nothing short of inspiring.