Power of the People

My experience at the Women's March on Washington

By Marisa Cordon

  *MARISA CORDON IS THE PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATIVE FELLOW AT THE HONEY W. NASHMAN CENTER

*MARISA CORDON IS THE PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATIVE FELLOW AT THE HONEY W. NASHMAN CENTER

I come from a country where “feminism” is not a widespread word. I learned about feminism indirectly, understanding the harsh reality women face in Guatemala and elsewhere in Latin America as the victims of “femicide” multiplied and eventually made international news. And the world took notice. I wondered why it was not the norm to voice these concerns at home in Guatemala in our own society, wondered what were we all doing to protect the next victims?

I also did not understand the concept of “freedom of speech” until I immigrated to the U.S. It wasn’t until Saturday, at the Women’s March on Washington, that I fully understood its purpose. I have never experienced what it feels like to be part of a protest, and more specifically, one of the largest protests the U.S. may have ever seen.

I am still in awe at how many people surrounded me in every visible direction. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to witness the messages that were conveyed through posters and chants. I feel privileged to be studying for a Master’s Degree in Public Health, focusing on women and children who find themselves at the epicenter of these controversial political times.

At this point in my life, I can truly say that I am learning as much inside and outside of the classroom. My professors and classmates are a constant source of inspiration, providing me with new perspectives in every conversation about the future of this country, in their outrage at the plans of this new administration, and their desire to speak out in the hopes of change. Solidarity was personified in every individual that chose to join the crowds and march alongside one another. Solidarity is the message I received from the powerful unity of bodies marching toward the same direction, pushed forward by the same aims, and determined to achieve equality in any and all forms.

  Marisa Cordon with her mom Sandra Villa de Leon at the Women’s March on Washington. (January 21, 2017)

Marisa Cordon with her mom Sandra Villa de Leon at the Women’s March on Washington. (January 21, 2017)

I have never seen or felt the power of the people when they become united for a cause. And I personally believe that the March on Washington epitomized multiple causes, because in the end the purpose was expression. The purpose was to have a voice, a voice made louder and stronger when joined with other voices. I had the gift of marching with my mom, someone who, coming from a conservative society, had not been able to protest her whole life. 

The values of the new administration do not reflect the values of a “free society” that I quickly began to associate with the United States after immigrating. But thankfully people’s reactions to it do.