Holmes Comes Marching In by Grace McCormick
Amidst the crowds, the chants, the signs, the celebrities and the pink hats, there was freshman Aliviya Holmes marching for equality.
Holmes joined an estimated 3.3 to 4.6 million Americans in Washington D.C. at the Women’s March on January 21.
“My mom saw the idea of the Women’s March on Facebook around December and presented the idea to me,” she said.
Prior to her road trip, Holmes had never been anywhere on the East Coast.
“When my mom told me, I was awestruck,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that I was going to be in our nation’s capital.”
She and her mother drove eight and a half hours to Washington, D.C.
“When I stepped out of the car, I felt this amazing rush,” Holmes said. “I was thinking how special it was that I was in the place where presidents, congressmen and senators had been. It felt real.”
She was able to meet unique people at the march.
“There were women, men, transgenders, people of color, Caucasian people and disabled people,” Holmes said. “It felt like the entire United States gathered in one place to coexist.”
Many protestors held signs while marching.
“My favorite sign that I saw said ‘the only way to survive is by taking care of one another,’” Holmes said.
Holmes wore an iron-on patch on her hoodie that said “keep your tiny hands off our rights.”
“One person walked up to me and said, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re so beautiful and I love your iron-on,’” she said. “I was talking to another person who really wanted to start a chant. She just didn’t know what she wanted to say. We tried to start a chant together, but we failed and just laughed about it.”
Some marchers confused the idea of a peaceful protest with a riot. More than 200 people were arrested and several policemen were injured. Others in D.C. protested the marchers and their actions.
“I only saw four opposers of the march in D.C. They were behind a store window booing us,” Holmes said. “It amused me that they made the effort to bring us all down when we clearly were there for a purpose.”
The purpose of the march was to take steps toward equality for all types of Americans and to inform people in office of equality goals.
“The march was so intense and empowering,” Holmes said. “My mom and I both felt that we were part of a community of people who all support us, accept us, and want the best for us. I really felt that I was part of something and that I wasn’t alone in my struggles.”
Holmes has been told to abide by female stereotypes throughout her life.
“I was once told that I looked like a boy and since I thought that was wrong, I cried,” she said. “I couldn’t stand wearing feminine clothes or the color pink, but being told that I looked like a boy still got to me.”
Holmes also mentioned that she has been discriminated against because of her skin color.
“In junior high, a boyfriend of mine was made fun of for dating a black girl,” she said.
She believes that movements for equality are needed in today’s society, especially Black Lives Matter.
“I support all movements and organizations that promote equality since I am a black feminist part of the LGBT community,” Holmes said.
Supporters of equality movements often have different thoughts about what actions will make the most difference and how long protests will have to continue.
“These movements will probably have to go on for a couple generations for everyone to feel accepted for who they are,” Holmes said. “A lot of older people especially choose to be ignorant about why these movements are needed, and ignorance is something that you can’t get rid of.”
Holmes said the Women’s March opened her eyes to what she has to do for equality movements in order to make a difference.
“Being in the march me realize that if I want change, I have to be a real activist. I have to do more than just like and share things on social media,” she said. “I’ve already gathered a group of friends who want to fight for equality in downtown Fort Wayne.”
Many people debate whether the Women’s March will be a one-time event or the spark of a great difference for equality movements.
“If there is another women’s march, we will get back out there,” Holmes said. “I will bike to D.C. if I have to, if it means being involved in another march for equality.”