Students join protest in Boston Common

by Kyle Labe / Beacon Correspondent • January 25, 2017

A flag hanging over the Boston Common.
A flag hanging over the Boston Common.

People from around the country filled Boston Common last Saturday with pink hats, paper vaginas, and a demand to be heard.

Many Emerson students invested themselves in the demonstration. Some hopped on buses to the main protests in Washington D.C., and others gathered their picket signs and Pussyhat Project caps for the Boston march.

Isabella Kestermann, a junior writing, literature, and publishing major, marched in Boston.

“It’s important to not normalize everything happening [politically] right now,” she said. “This march is to represent those who are ignored. We have to come together.”

The day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Women’s March on Boston was held downtown to raise awareness for women’s rights. It was one of the many sister marches to the core protest in Washington D.C. Organized primarily through Facebook, the march aimed to instill solidarity, empowerment, and a sense of community among marginalized groups.

The Boston crowd far surpassed the predicted 70,000 who registered online. By the end of the protest, CNN predicted the Boston march reached somewhere between 120,000 and 125,000 people.  

One of those in attendance was Emerson President M. Lee Pelton.

“It’s important to speak out for the behalf of women,” Pelton said in an interview at the event. “[The march] is an affirmation of the core values of the United States, and I’m glad to support it.”

At noon, signs were thrust up into the clear sky, in stark contrast to the cloudy gloom of the inauguration the day before. One sign featured the Republican party mascot inside a uterus and proclaimed that “we need to talk about the elephant in the womb”; another, with a picture of Princess Leia, said, “A woman’s place is in the resistance.” Many were general statements like “women’s rights are human rights,” “Black Lives Matter,” or “I stand with Planned Parenthood.” Some were more creative: One elderly woman proudly raised a sign saying, “I can’t believe I still have to protest this.”

Many were wearing pink knit hats with ears which, according to NPR, represented backlash to Trump’s leaked comments about grabbing women by their genitalia. The supporters of the Pussyhat Project sought to flood the march with a sea of pink hats.

The march started on Charles Street between Boston Common and the Public Garden. It was a one mile route from the Common to Commonwealth Avenue, turning on Clarendon Street to stretch back to the start.

Wills Ladd, a freshman communication studies major, marched with a few of his female friends to show them his support.

“I hope the march clears up the definition of feminism, and how it’s about everybody deserving their rights,” he said. “The ‘agreed upon’ should be equality, and we won’t be pushed back in time.”

The march officially started around 1 p.m. Since an influx of new marchers joined last-minute, it proved complicated to mobilize the march. It was roughly two hours before everyone successfully moved off of the Common.

Gabby Chiongbian, a junior marketing communication major, was one of the many waiting for the march to move from the Common to the streets.

“Trump’s presidency is not a space for women,” she said, “[The march] is very reassuring that we’re here and that we exist.”

The crowd was diverse, with people from every background. Many wore a “nasty woman” T-shirt. A Boston-born, 20-something couple traveled from Los Angeles to march in their hometown. One librarian pridefully exclaimed that she fought fascists in her free time. A woman said she was marching in honor of her mother, who participated in the suffragette protests of the early twentieth century. One teenage boy climbed the gateway at the Charles-Beacon St. intersection, waving the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ movement.

Nick Pucci, a freshman visual and media arts major, arrived halfway through the march in observance.

“It’s important for people to exercise their right to protest,” he said. “And it’s even as important to actually stand up for something.”