One of the greatest qualities of becoming a young adult is the opportunity to grow into your own ideas and express them in a matter that is peaceful. One of the greatest attributes of Gannon University is its constant mission to encouraging students to develop their own personal values and to express these values in a way that is constructive. As a result, I have had the opportunity to experience a multitude of movements at my time at Gannon University, but by far one of the most fascinating student journeys that I have had the opportunity to hear is the following…
On Saturday, January 21st, 2017, men and women from around the world united to march on behalf of women’s rights. One interesting feature of this movement is that it focused not only on gender issues, but also matters dear to many other organizations. Patrons stood carrying signs ranging from health care to climate change without much conflict. When Mackenzie Wenrick, a sophomore public health major, discovered that the march was taking place, she immediately rallied on board. Her passion led her to the heart of the movement: Washington, D.C.
I had the opportunity to talk with Mackenzie about the march and asked her if there was anything that she would like to share with our readers.
What inspired you to participate in the Women’s March?
I support equal rights and opportunities. Certainly, women have more rights now than they did years ago, but gender inequalities still very much exist as a social problem. Given our context, in addition to our recent history, I find it necessary to engage in this campaign to continually progress as a society. Always continue to look forward.
What does the March mean to you?
I am fortunate to live in this country at this time, because I know that, by comparison, women have many more opportunities here than in other parts of the world. However, it doesn’t mean that we are still in a place where we are always treated as equally as we should be. I don’t want the next generation of females to grow up feeling like their gender holds them back in any aspect of their lives. This march gives me that opportunity to actively support this desire.
I actually found out about the March before I heard that there would be a sister march in Erie, so I looked into traveling to Washington from the start. I knew that attending the March in Washington would be an even more impactful experience for me, so even after hearing about Erie’s march, I continued to find a way to get to Washington. It was incredible to hear about the sister marches that went on around the world, but it wouldn’t have been such a great March had 500,000 people not traveled to the actual location of the event. That being said, I still am tremendously grateful for how it turned into a global movement that day.
How did you get to Washington?
Living in a city where so many community members were interested in the March, I was able to connect with people to give me the opportunity to make the trip to Washington. I did this by joining a Facebook group online that frequently posted rideshare opportunities and March updates. The day before the March, someone had posted that they were selling their extra ticket for a seat on a rally bus that was leaving from Erie to Washington. I bought the ticket from her, and rode the rally bus to Washington with about 50 other local people.
What impacted you the most about the experience?
The diversity of the crowd had the biggest impact on me. Men, women and children of all races and nationalities showed up to the March. They were probably there for a variety of different reasons, but when it came down to it, you knew that everyone was there to support equality, justice and opportunity. The fact that there was great representation from so many groups showed me that this is not a one-sided battle. I am now optimistic that, we, as a collective society, are capable of giving women (and everyone, for that matter) the rights and respect that they deserve.
Did anything unexpected happen?
Yes, actually. While we were waiting for the March to begin, the organizers made an announcement that the March would be cancelled due to the large and unexpected size of the crowd. People were really disappointed in this because they had traveled so far to be a part of the demonstration. The group that I was with, along with some other groups of people, decided to March anyway for our own sake. As soon as that began, people followed. Then, more people followed. Soon, everyone was moving! Although we did not all take the original path that was designed for us, our movement basically shut down that part of the city because people were filling up every street. It was incredible.
Is there anything that you would like the Gannon Community to know?
The March is not the end of the campaign! One march is not going to change the culture. This has just opened our eyes to show us that we can still continue to move forward.