On January 20, half a million people gathered at the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington, and members of Temple’s Social Work Student Collective were there to make their collective voice heard.
“It was great to be able to go to the march with friends, classmates, and community,” says Lydia Smith, SWSC’s president. “It was very exciting that so many people joined.”
Smith says the group’s presence was important. “As future social workers we regularly encounter members of oppressed and marginalized groups, who may be disproportionately affected by some of the new administration’s attitudes and proposed policies,” she says. She says she’s especially concerned about policies and programs that ensure opportunities for minorities in education, provide protections against discrimination and violence, and maintain other aspects of the social safety net such as unemployment benefits, SSI, Medicare and Medicaid.
“I hope the march helps form a community of people who are ready to challenge Trump’s ideologies, legislation, his cabinet and supreme court appointments,” Smith says.
The future social worker offered tips for people to continue the momentum after the march: “Listen to people. Validate their experiences and emotions. Put members of oppressed groups at the center of those conversations. Speak on behalf of your own experiences, rather than constructing your own ideas about what someone else has experienced. And take time for self-care.”
Estimated to be the largest protest event in U.S. history, the Women’s March drew crowds in cities throughout the U.S. and worldwide. In Philadelphia, an estimated 50,000 gathered along Benjamin Franklin Parkway; nationwide the day’s events may have drawn more than 3.3 million – or one in 100 of all Americans, according to a recent analysis.