The protests that changed us

I WAS RAISED in a progressive, politically-aware family, but we weren’t particularly active. When I’ve asked my mother about how her politics developed, she’s told me that they couldn’t until my sister and I were out of the house. She knew how she felt, but when we were young, it seemed like a full-time hobby for her to stay current. I’m sure many working families in this country, with or without children, feel the same way.

Still, I remember my mother’s small shows of activism throughout my childhood. When my sister and I told her that a youth group meeting had been devoted to lecturing us on the ‘evils of abortion,’ she pulled us out of it. When a man with a critical handicap attempted to cross in front of our car, my mother held up traffic so she could help him. When she noticed a family walking home every day from church in the winter, she began showing up at their home every Sunday morning to offer a ride.

That was my mom. Those were her politics, and they’ve shaped my own. Today, my mother’s activism has only become more fine-tune. She’s left a church that she grew up attending because she couldn’t bear to listen to another anti-LGBTQ or anti-choice homily. She sets money aside every year to donate to Planned Parenthood instead. She will not pass up any opportunity to engage with someone on climate change, marriage equality, reproductive justice. And on Jan. 21st, her and my father will attend the Women’s March on our state capitol of Augusta.

On that same weekend, I’ll take a bus from Mount Desert Island, Maine to Washington D.C. to attend the same march. I’ll join what is expected to be more than 200,000 other people, of all backgrounds, to prove to the incoming administration that we exist.

Like my mom, I’ve committed my short life to small actions. In college, I threw myself into feminism. I started a newspaper that still exists on campus today. I went to Student Women’s Association meetings every week. On Wednesday mornings I stood with several others in silence, holding pro-choice signs, across from a geology professor who held his own morbid and irrelevant images.

Each time I’ve participated in these small acts, I’ve come away with a feeling of accomplishment. So in preparation for the Women’s March on Washington, I reached out to the Matador community for protest stories. I wanted to see if others came away with a similar sense of power, no matter how small their action. [read more]