On Saturday Jan. 21, 2017, the Capital City served as the mecca for the March on Lansing. A diverse representation of passionate, focused community members rallied at the Capitol steps to show that bigotry and hate will not be tolerated. Women, from all walks of life, gathered with their husbands, children, parents, and grandparents to peacefully protest the current political climate. The march, taking place only one day after the inauguration of the 45th President Donald Trump, was held in response to potential threats to public education, health care, women’s rights, minorities, the disabled, and LGBTQ+ rights. The mission of the March on Lansing, a sister event to the Women’s March on Washington, is to be all inclusive and to collaborate with elected officials to advocate for a Michigan that respects and protects its citizens.
Lynnea Jackson, a rally-goer from Okemos, Mich., said, “It’s really important that we share justice with everyone, instead of having only a small percentage of the population being in control and deciding our rights for us.”
She was not alone. An estimated 8,000 people attended the March on Lansing. The peaceful demonstration joined other marches in Washington D.C. and literally all over the world.
People congregated on the saturated Capitol lawn to hear the roster of key speakers. The first of these was Gubernatorial candidate and former State Legislator, Gretchen Whitmer. The crowd’s murmur rose to a roar with her words of encouragement and plan of action. A driving force behind Whitmer’s speech was the bitter taste left by Donald Trump still lingering in the mouths of women and minorities across the country. Whitmer advised the crowd to stay positive by not rooting for the failure of Trump, but instead by taking action and backing her in the run for governor of Michigan in 2018.
“I will seek out different opinions and learn from them. I will seek out those who voted for the new president, and I will learn from them,” proclaimed Whitmer. “I love this state and the people of this state much, much more than I disagree with those who voted for Donald Trump.”
Thousands applauded Whitmer and the speakers that followed continuing to add fire to the feminist flame. Dr. Farha Abbasi, Michigan State University psychiatrist, managing editor of the Muslim Mental Health Journal, assistant professor and coordinator of the annual Muslim Mental Health Conference, brought tears to rally-goers’ eyes with a personal, poetic and moving dialogue.
Abbasi began with humbleness to Allah and her Muslim faith; comparing the peaceful nature of her religion with the struggle of constant contradictions of the media and the current presidential platform.
“They say, there are three strikes against me. I am a woman, an immigrant and a Muslim. I say, I am a practicing Muslim, a patriotic American and a proud mother.”
Dr. Farha Abbasi recited line after line of her commanding speech; capturing something in each person in the crowd, so they could relate – so they could feel. “They say a political storm is brewing, I say look up the storm is already here. We are the storm.”
The high-profile lineup of speakers consisted of Lavonia Perryman, Dizzy Warren, Gretchen Driskell, Lisa Brown, Barb Byrum, Lori Carpentier, and Jessica Lumbreras.
The march commenced with women, men and children demonstrating peace and democracy down Michigan Avenue. Not one arrest was made on Saturday. According to NBC News, the Women’s March on Washington, which had an estimated half a million people in attendance, reported no arrests as well.
We have to be vocal. We have to continue to support our neighbors. We have to support our diverse friends and family… now more than ever,” said rally-goer Karen Clark.
As the monumental day ended, protesters planned for the days to come; and leaders conversed with the public for future action. The Women’s March is estimated to be the largest protest in U.S. history. Overall, the event brought like-minded people together at the most influential location in Michigan, the Capitol building.
Photos by:Erika Hodges