Skylar Leeson: My voice was heard
January 24, 2017
Being 17, this was the first presidential election where I felt strongly about the outcome but had no power to make an impact.
It was the first time that I felt voiceless and ineffective. The first time I have ever been greatly disappointed in my country. The first time I cried over the loss of a great leader.
But it was also the first time I have wanted to fight for my rights, protest through the streets to make my voice heard, and the first time I had done everything in my power to make a difference.
As soon as I got on the shuttle to the airport on my way to the Women's March on Washington, I met a woman from Denver who was taking her daughter to the march. When I arrived at the gate, I talked to a woman who was nervous about the amount of TSA in the airport, wondering if her fear of violence was valid. We reassured each other, knowing that at the end of the day we were going to be a part of history.
Once I boarded the plane, I could hear excited chatter; our plane was 95 percent women, most of whom wore pink pussy hats. There were conversations between strangers, all sharing stories of why they were attending.
Some were moms, daughters, LGBTQ+, immigrants and African Americans, and all were going to fight for the equal rights they know they deserve. When we pulled away from the gate, everyone cheered and whooped, laughed and high-fived. We knew we were all going to make a difference, and I could feel the anticipation and pride of being apart of something bigger myself.
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As we landed, the entire plane started singing "God Bless America," and I carried that sense of patriotism throughout the entire weekend.
The next morning, as my group and I were dropped off by the Capitol, there were swarms of pink already chanting and making their way toward the front of the stage where the speakers were gathering.
There were signs that floated above the heads of most of the crowd. Many were funny, but just as many were passionate and political. My favorites were "Dumbledore wouldn't have let this happen," "This is what resistance looks like" and mine said "Sorry for the inconvenience, we are trying to change the world."
As more and more people surrounded us, we knew we were going to have to find some high ground if we wanted to be able to see anything. As we made our way to the top of the stairs outside the Air and Space Museum, we had a view of the sea of women, men and children that stretched for miles in every direction. Never have I felt so safe in such a large crowd.
The speakers were strong-spoken, intelligent, passionate and inspirational. America Ferrera reminded us that the president does not represent us, we cannot give up our rights and that we have to keep fighting for the rights of everyone.
Gloria Steinem proved that fighting for what you believe in will pay off, and that the harder you work, the better the outcome. Cecile Richards advocated for Planned Parenthood, saying that we need to continue to battle for safe and legal abortions.
Michael Moore said the fight has to go on past today and that the simple act of calling your congressman every day can make a huge a difference.
And there were so many others speaking on subjects such as climate change, women in prison and Black Lives Matter. In general, all human rights were addressed. After about four hours of standing, listening and chanting, our knees were tired, but our hearts were happy.
When we were ready to make our way home, we tried to get to the Metro station that was about two blocks away. With the amount of people crammed together on the street, it took us about an hour to get to the station.
As we made the descent underground, people were on their way up on the escalators, shaking their heads with frustration. As we arrived at the gates that would let us through to the trains, the guards told us that this station was closed.
The amount of people trying to leave the city made in impossible for the trains to stop safely. Though many people were yelling at the guards, I smiled and thanked him. I knew that if the D.C. Metro could get overwhelmed then we had already made an impact.
This forced us back up to the now massive crowds marching toward the White House. We marched for blocks, passed massive buildings, under bridges and through the heart of our nation's Capitol.
Fog blanketed most of the city, and for awhile, I was quite disoriented, but as I turned a corner, following the hats and signs in front of me, the Washington Monument came into view. Due to the fog, I could only see about half of it but I was still struck by how large and beautiful it was.
It felt surreal to be marching by one of the most famous structures in the nation, in one of the most powerful cities in the world. It made me feel powerful, and I was finally able to say that I had made an impact and had my voice heard.
The Women's March on Washington was the most inspirational, empowering and enlightening movement I have ever been a part of. There were hundreds of thousands of people who thought like me, who want the same outcome as me and who were willing to fight for a change like me.
We were shoulder to shoulder for miles, chanting together, raising our voices in unity. And there were thousands of others all over the country and world doing the same exact thing. The millions of hearts beating for the same cause left me in awe.
Skylar Leeson is a senior at Steamboat Springs High School and an intern this semester at Steamboat Pilot & Today and Steamboat Living magazine.