The role of activist is a new one for me. I didn’t grow up in a politically active family, nor did I feel comfortable having political conversations. I was more of a people-pleaser, than a rabble-rouser. But even though I put on the coat of activism later in life than some, I have done so eagerly and passionately.
Along with this renewed hunger to work toward advancing positive change (and prevent disastrous change, as well) is a desire to instill a strong sense of activism in my children. I want them to grow up knowing that they have a voice and we the people have power. “Don’t just complain; do something about it,” I often tell them, and I want to be a good model for what “doing something” looks like.
For many of us, “doing something” was marching in the Women’s March on Washington — or one of the hundreds of sister marches around the country and the world — this past weekend. We showed up and we rose up. We used our voices, and we marched on for a women’s rights, equality, and basic human decency.
I marched in Chicago on Saturday, and although the introvert in me was a bit apprehensive about it, the experience surpassed anything I could have imagined.
The energy, the kindness, and the optimism were all contagious. Just as the resilience and determination on the faces of the marchers and in the voices of the speakers was uplifting, empowering, and motivating. And the camaraderie, friendship, and shared vision of what our country stands for was like seeing a rainbow in the midst of a torrential downpour.
One of the most powerful moments of the day, without a doubt, was when an L train passed over us marching. The conductor honked several times and gave us a fist of solidarity. The train was filled with signs of support and people waving and cheering. I don’t have a photo or video of it, but it is firmly etched in my mind and heart.
Adding to the collective energy of the day were also the large numbers of men and children participating. This wasn’t just a march of women, but a march of humanity. There were women of all ages, sure, but there were also men — young and old — and children.
So many children.
Children learning to use their voices, seeing what it means to stand up for what’s important, and stepping into the role of “activist” with innocent eyes and a hopeful heart.
Being an activist isn’t some radical idea, and it doesn’t have to be an all-consuming role. Being an activist simply means being an engaged citizen, standing up for what you believe in, and making you voice heard. And by the looks of things this weekend, these kids have it down to a T.
In the words of Roo Shattuck, a 4-year-old who marched in Boston with his mother (and one of my friends), “We marched because we hope Donald Trump will make kind choices. We wanted him to see us hoping!”
Here are just some of the many — many — children who turned up on Saturday to spread that same message: