The Hawk Talk

Marches have lost historical power

Alexa Clark, Print Editor-in-Chief

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As the second Women’s March commenced on Jan. 20, a flood of pink hats advanced toward the Lincoln Memorial. Within the crowd, many women stopped to take pictures as a way to commemorate the moment and, of course, for their Instagram feeds. While most women marched in order to empower one another, the crowd was disorganized, lacking a central and effective message.

Pro-life marches protest the legalization of abortions. Black Lives Matter demonstrations protest police brutality. However, recent marches fail to be effective because they are too ambiguous. Was last year’s Women’s March meant as a stand against Trump’s presidency? Or was it an opportunity to empower women and minorities? The fact that people cannot unite behind a common cause and put aside differences to stand with others undermines protests in general.

“One really good example of marches starting off as a good idea but becoming something else because of social influence was Occupy Wall Street. In the beginning it was disorganized but well intentioned,” Nina Saadat (’18) said. “They were protesting social inequalities and corporate greed, but then when more people started joining, it became so diverse that no message was effectively conveyed and it fizzled before any real change occurred.”

Marches and protests, like the women’s marches, have become sensationalized over the years and lack the power to enact effective change. Social media, in particular, has spurred more superficial participation in demonstrations as people attempt to keep up appearances by posting photos that follow popular narratives. This prevents protests from reaching their full potential because the ideas they foster must move beyond the streets and into state and national legislatures, if any effective developments are to occur.  

These movements meant to bolster change have slowly flickered out as they continue to exclude certain groups of people. For example, pro-life feminists at the women’s marches felt ostracized because they did not support abortion. As forces for change, marches and protests should project the concerns of citizens and enable grassroots efforts. Yet the omission of transgender rights in the Women’s March proves marches have more to achieve in this polarizing climate. Without compromise, these movements preaching unity are only heated debates that will never find the resolutions they seek.

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Marches have lost historical power