Editor’s note: This is a featured writer’s first hand account of the Ohio Women’s March that took place in Columbus on Sunday.
Walking over the bridge that crosses the Scioto River, the congregation was met with cold air. It chilled their lungs and turned their faces a shade of pink that matched the hats on many women’s heads and the signs clenched in their determined fists. The chilling wind could not combat the warmth from the crowd and the voices of thousands of women in unison as they chanted, “My body, my choice!”
On Sunday, Jan. 15, thousands of people — men, women and children alike — gathered to march through the streets of downtown Columbus to take their message and their passion straight to the steps of the Ohio Statehouse.
In response to the President Elect’s inauguration, women around the country are planning to march in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21 to protect women’s rights. The march in Columbus, like many other marches throughout the country, was a smaller, sister march for individuals who cannot complete the trip to Washington.
Upon reaching the steps of the Statehouse, the group continued to chant until the entire lawn was full of people. All of the marchers stood shoulder-to-shoulder, back-to-front for everyone to fit into the space that seemed incredibly small when packed with thousands of hearts and voices. Photographers and news stations stood at the top of the steps, taking pictures and videos of the crowd.
A woman in a jean jacket and backwards baseball cap held a megaphone and led the call and response chants. The energy in the crowd grew stronger every time the woman asked, “When women’s rights are under attack, what do we do?”
The crowd responded, “Stand up, fight back!”
The group was much larger than the organizers had anticipated. Standing on the steps with clipboards and pink hats on their heads, the women surveyed the crowd with looks of admiration. Though the sheer volume of attendees hampered their initial plans, they were quick to adapt to the large numbers.
The organizers instructed all of the attendees who were planning on marching in Washington to stand on the steps of the Statehouse. There was a nearly indescribable majesty in standing on those steps. Women of all ages, colors and walks of life stood proudly as they took on one city and prepared to move to another.
Falling into a single file line, those planning on attending the Washington March led the group in a circle around the Statehouse and back to the front of the building. Though too many people were there to have the 30 minutes of silence initially planned, the group stood side by side in what was deemed “a circle of love” around the courthouse. The circle was open to people of any sexuality, race, gender and political preference. It was simply a group of people standing together, walking for freedom.
The moment broke apart and those who were not attending the march on Washington pinned their messages to the backs of people who were going.
A woman with long blonde hair pinned her message to the back of my jacket. The sign said, “Women’s rights = human rights. We can’t move backward!”
Though the march was over for many residents of Columbus, their words would continue to echo throughout the country as others carried their messages forward to Washington and to a more equal future.