What Movements Matter?

Every protest has meaning.

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I have grown fond of protests. Since the United States’ administration change in early 2017 there have been plenty of reasons to take to the streets and march or picket. Of all these events I have participated in, my most recent one stands out to me the most. Just two weekends ago on March 24 Americans brought out their poster boards and markers once again to join in a March for Our Lives protest in their hometown. Under most circumstances I would have woken up early to make the 45-minute drive into Atlanta to join in there, but I was feeling lazy. Instead a close friend and I chose to take part in a march happening right “next door” in Covington, Georgia.

As I drove to the town square where the march was to begin, all I could think about was whether there would be other people present. Up until that point all my protest adventures had taken place in major U.S cities- Denver and Atlanta to be precise. In those situations I saw people with signs heading in the same direction as myself blocks before my destination. This time I had only seen about five or six people and a sign or two between them before we were parked a block away from the square. It was nerve-racking to me. I care very deeply about the issue of gun violence in America, but even still I was worried about standing out and not in a good way. When we made it into the square the sight of a sizeable group of protestors comforted me. All together there were around 40 protestors present. There were retired teachers, current teachers, pastors, parents, students, and even a pair of dogs. Everyone shared stories, opinions and ideas. Together we marched around the square and made our voices heard.

The day’s events satisfied me. I had certainly seen plenty of passing cars slow down to read our signs and a variety of reactions from them. However, the question remained. Had we made a difference? What movements matter? Did ours? With the amount of press that March for Our Lives received there can be no doubts that that movement mattered, but did ours? Did that pack of concerned citizens in a small-town city square matter? Part of me had doubts. I saw the crowds in Atlanta, I had seen them before in person. This march was not like those ones. And yet, it got me out of bed. I knew I was not going to Atlanta that morning. I knew there would not be a sea of thousands waiting for me in Covington Square and yet, I made it there. Our march that day mattered because of each and every person present. If we had all been too afraid to come out and be alone then none of us would have made it.

The second feet hit the pavement and a sign is thrust into the air, a movement matters. The second a name is chosen, and a meeting place is set, a movement matters. The second any person is no longer satisfied with their world and chooses to change it, their movement matters. If it is one person, or ten, or five million people moving for themselves and each other, their movement matters. As a nation, as a community, we must continue to move. If we give in to the fear that we will be alone or that we will not make a difference, then we will prove ourselves right.

 

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