By Klarke Stricklen
“My Neck, My Back, My P**** will Grab Back” was one of the many chants shouted at the Nashville Women’s Rally Saturday, January 19. Twenty-four Sewanee students attended the rally alongside many women’s advocacy groups, sororities, and bands advocating for change. Sewanee’s involvement was arranged by Jasmine Huang (C’21) and Lala Hilizah (C’21). Students were able to register up until a few days prior to the event.
The day began with cheerful spirits and the smell of coffee and doughnuts from Stirling’s Coffee Shop in the Barnwick Women Center’s Living Room. Although the rain persisted throughout the early morning, it didn’t wash away the positive attitude. Students were encouraged to meet early to decorate signs and eat a light breakfast. Many chose to participate in this option to receive motivation for the upcoming rally.
“It was really great to see everyone who braved the rainy weather to come out in support of a very important cause,” said Hilizah in regard to the event’s success.
Once in Nashville, they saw a city of women who, like them, had come to protest for governmental leadership change, change in certain legislations regarding women, and the government shutdown with emphasis on how the potential border wall was a divisive act led by the President of the United States.
Over the course of the day the students saw various speakers and bands initiating change in some way. However, it was not until after a few speakers that people began to wonder when the actual march would begin. After asking a few fellow attendees, students were told that due to the inauguration of Governor Bill Lee, an actual march would not take place. Instead, the event would be a rally for change.
After interacting with a few interesting attendees, including a woman dressed in gold to demonstrate positive body image and counter-protestors claiming feminism was the “devil’s work”, people began to make their way toward the rest of the group to take a group photo. The photo was taken by individuals representing Planned Parenthood, who were ecstatic that young citizens were getting involved, and afterwards encouraged them to continue to be vocal.
Towards the end of the day, students had a chance to reflect on their day and how the rally had truly affected them. For many, this was their first time participating.
Hannah True (C’21) said “I’ve never been to a protest or rally before, so I didn’t know what exactly to expect. “People didn’t care about the weather because they knew they were doing something powerful.”
The leaders and participants hope to continue the trip for years to come and even encourage more to join their fight for change. Although other cities participated in a full-on march, the Nashville Women’s rally was nothing short of what it advertised. The empowerment and willingness to allow all women to participate in leading the way for change was very clear. The speakers and bands conveyed their personal messages of reform in their own unique way alongside protesters. Their chants were heard from miles away and their voices heard statewide.