If you think protest marches don’t make a difference, think again.
by Amy Lynne Johnson
I booked a hotel in DC in November 2016, as soon as I heard about the Women’s March scheduled for January, a day after the inaugural of our 45th “president.”
Some of my friends and family joined me. We were all feeling helpless and hopeless. A lot of people told us it wouldn’t amount to much. That it would likely be pretty small and quickly forgotten. They worried we’d go through a lot of trouble for nothing.
Yeah, 6 million people in cities all around the world marched that day. Peacefully.
It changed everything.
So, when I saw the kids in Parkland and across the country start to organize and turn their anger, fear, and grief into what is now a national movement, I knew right away that I would march with them. I will march with them the way people marched with me.
Here’s what the Women’s March did:
I found hope again. I knew I wasn’t alone in my feelings. I knew if I started to speak up about things that bothered me, millions of people would have my back.
That March awakened a courage in me I hadn’t felt for nearly twenty years. I started taking much better care of myself. I started to get really strong. It shocked me what I found inside myself. Sometimes, I spontaneously laugh in delight at all the happy surprises that regularly come my way now.
I started speaking openly about my opinions and asked for what I wanted. I got a real sense of the people in my life, where they stood, and if they had my back. There were a few who didn’t belong there, so they naturally fell away. This made room for new friends. Lots of them. Better friends. These connections brought new opportunities. I had the courage to take them.
I found my voice, and started singing. Turns out I can sing really, really powerfully when I want to. The first song I performed in public was MILCK’s “I Can’t Keep Quiet.” That song became the unofficial anthem of the Women’s March, and the official anthem of all women who’ve been told their whole lives to shut up and be nice.
It was my rallying cry. My rebel yell.
I have gone on to sing a lot more. Never thought I’d do that.
I started writing again. Now you are reading what I am writing. Would not have happened without that March.
I watched and cheered as courageous women broke their silence. They came forward to tell the truth about abuses of power and sexual assault and misconduct, much of which had been suppressed and enabled for decades. I watched as, one by one, powerful men fell from grace.
Powerful women rose up and showed me what real beauty is. I saw Time magazine recognize this.
I found the strength to break my own silence. Like so many others before me, I was intimidated, demeaned, harassed, threatened, and bullied because I told the truth. I stood my ground, and good people stood with me. Justice was served, and quickly. I never doubted my choices, and even after all I’ve been through, I’d do it again. I sure as hell would help others do it, too.
I have it in me to scare the crap out of people who disrespect my boundaries. Yep, because of that March. I know I have millions of people standing with me. I won’t turn my back on the battlefield.
Because of our shared experience in marching and standing up for what’s right, my friendships, old and new, are deeper, more authentic, and more fulfilling. My husband and I are more in love now, after 21 years, than we’ve ever been. I am closer to my family. My four sisters and I are a force to be reckoned with. In fact, all of my relationships are better, because I know where I stand, and I won’t settle for less anymore. Not now that I know what’s possible.
When I look back at how my life changed after the Women’s March, I feel overwhelming gratitude and awe. Every single aspect of my life has improved beyond belief. I broke free from toxic relationships that had dogged me for years. I became a part of a community that I love, that lifts me up at every turn. I get to lift others up when they are struggling.
I get to write to people like you, and share what I have learned. I get to learn from others, and my mind opens. I sing, and people come up to me and tell me their heavy hearts have been lightened, their strength has been renewed. Mine too, I say.
I share more. I give more. I laugh more. I live more.
The love I know now is above and beyond anything I could have imagined only a year ago.
It’s no wonder when we feel despair, our heads naturally drop down.
Open your eyes and take a look. There are your feet. Get moving.
You’re getting your marching orders.
I hope you will consider participating in the March for Our Lives, or in what ever way feels right to you. Your life will likely change in ways you never imagined, and you’ll show our nation’s children that their safety and lives matter.
Enjoy the ride. Let me know about it.
One step can change everything.
“The truth is on the march and nothing will stop it.”