Thousands of South Carolinians of all ages, genders and races joined together at Columbia’s State House and Music Farm concert venue with millions of others worldwide to rally for women’s rights and other causes on Jan. 21, one day after the inauguration of now-President Donald Trump.
The rally was in partnership with the Women’s March on Washington
D.C., and was also part of the South Carolina Progressive Network (SCPN) Stand Up Rally. The event advocated for progress in a number of social justice areas, and attendees were encouraged to be engaged and become involved in making this progress happen.
“The worst thing you can do is throw up your hands and say, ‘Oh, woe is me. It doesn’t matter,’” South Carolina Democratic Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter said. “It does matter. The future is in your hands.”
The event was originally planned for the State House, but the threat of rainy weather prompted the organizers to relocate the event to the Music Farm venue. However, many protesters gathered at the State House anyway, leading to an abundance of marchers filling the sidewalks at both venues. The marchers brought a range of creative signs, with sayings from “this land was made for you and me” to “I will not go quietly back to the 1950’s.”
Speakers at the rally included the American Civil Liberties Union South Carolina Executive Director Shaundra Young Scott, Auntie Bellum Magazine’s Meaghan Kane and Interfaith Partners of South Carolina Chair Dr. Will Goins.
“Nationwide, 600 plus marches are going on right now,” Dr. Goins said. “We must determine how to use…diversity as our strength.”
South Carolina Poet Nikki Finney spoke to the crowd with somber emotion in a speech and poem that centered today’s government and the new Trump administration. She advised the crowd to “learn to play defense” before reading her stirring poem.
“What a worn out scarecrow of a fearmonger you are,” Finney said in her poem in regards to President Trump. “Wearing the same scared look and asking the Presidential parade organizers last week ‘Can I have a tank in the parade? I really want a tank in the parade.’ And being told…n’No, Mr. President.’”
Carolina Peace tabled at the event and gathered signatures for a petition asking for a decrease in American arms deals to Saudi Arabia in the Saudi-Yemen conflict. Carolina Peace also gathered several pages of new contacts to add to our email and volunteer lists.
The large number of participants at the protest was an opportunity for Carolina Peace and the other organizations in attendance to mobilize and gain support for numerous causes in Columba and beyond.
After the initial Women’s March event finished, attendees were offered the chance to come back to Music Farm for breakout sessions that centered on different social and peace issues such as women’s rights and immigration reform. The entire event functioned as a unifying and mobilizing day for South Carolinians to be informed and inspired about many important causes in today’s world.
“This is what a great day looks like in South Carolina,” South Carolina Progressive Network Director Brett Bursey said. “Thank you, Donald Trump, you’ve been our best organizer.”