I wish I could put into perfect words the feelings I experienced while attending the Women's March in Denver on January 21, 2017. It was a chaotic rush of rebellion, pride, community, fear, hope, a Winter breeze, a little whiskey, and a lot of love. I thought I knew what to expect, but I was pleasantly mistaken.
My first impression was not only the size of the crowd, but the creativity. Some of the protestors there must have been working on their signs for days leading up to the event. My personal favorite were the "Cheeto In Chief" puppets that we encountered early in the morning. There were elaborate costumes and decorated strollers, signs and puppets larger than those holding them, and not to mention plenty of the signature handmade "pussy" hats.
We spent the full day marching on Denver, getting lost within the sea of 100,000 people around us. It didn't matter where we were going or how far we had walked, our adrenaline was rocketed by the sensation of being a part of something larger than ourselves. For the first time in my life, I was exhibiting my right to Free Speech in the most profound way I have ever experienced. Contrary to criticisms, I saw no whining, no complaining, no "woe is me, poor snowflake" rhetoric being expressed. These were strong men (yes, plenty of men) and women of all ages coming together to enforce their rights as citizens in this great country. It wasn't about protesting the election (granted, there was plenty of anti-Trump messaging, but that man brings it upon himself). It was about defending our right to make our own decisions regarding our reproductive health. It was about defending the importance of genuine science-based research. It was about protecting our fragile, crippling environment. It was about making sure every citizen regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation felt welcomed and appreciated. It was about standing up for all of the people that may soon be oppressed, targeted, and hurt.
I saw a man walking with his young daughter, around his neck he worn a sign that read "I'm marching for her", and I couldn't help but cry. How incredible it was, that that father felt the need to join that day to show his daughter that he would not let her rights be infringed upon, and that strong men defended women. I was moved beyond words. I was shocked and delighted at how many parents, men and women, were there with their young daughters. How incredible it was that they were able to show their daughters, "you are worth more than you know, you have the ability to stand up for yourself, you have a voice that matters".
I'm forever thankful for this day. I'm so thankful to be a part of this and I hope to remain strong, empowered, and encouraged to stand up for what I believe in. Regardless of the political ongoings that have divided us recently, I'm so impressed by me and my friends' newfound political knowledge and involvement. We're not apathetic anymore. We're reading, we're listening, we're discussing, we're fighting, and we're acting. I hope that never changes.
By far the most exciting moment of the day was running into my favorite photojournalism professor, Kevin Moloney. Over the course of two years at CU Boulder, he taught me more about photography and the power of a photograph than I could've ever imagined. I was jumping a wall with my camera in tow when I looked up and saw him photographing us. We hugged and said hello, he asked me what I was doing here and I replied, "exactly what you taught me!" I was capturing history, I was making history. He snapped this great photo of that moment that I will appreciate forever.