A Day of Protest: Andover Area Women’s March

Approximately 200 people filled Shawsheen Square for a protest on Sunday, organized one year after the Women’s March on Washington. Andover students and faculty attended the march, which was hosted by the Andover Area Solidarity Group.

“I was really glad that I got the chance to go. I went last year in Boston with the school and a bunch of my friends. That experience was so powerful that I’m glad that I could relive it closer to campus,” said Bailey Colon ’18.

Although the march last year was in protest of Donald Trump’s election, this year marchers decided to highlight the importance of voting, particularly in November’s upcoming midterm elections.

Lilia Cai-Hurteau, marcher and Chair of the Chinese and Japanese Departments said, “The idea of ‘power to the polls’ is what will actually change things. You can march and march and march and protest and the president is tweeting things like, ‘Oh, what a nice day for women to go out and march.’ You don’t feel like you’re getting to him or anything. I think the idea of getting people out to vote is the most important thing.”

In addition, the Andover march focused on the election of local politicians, such as State Senator Barbara L’Italien, who was in attendance.

“At the Andover march… they talked more about Andover politicians… last year it was more about the march and the protest for me than engaging in dialogue with city officials. This year, that was definitely more prominent,” Colon said.

Although the focus of the march was local politicians, Amiri Tulloch ’18 still found the community of protesters at the march to be inspiring.

“I feel like I’m going to take from this just a reaffirmation that there’s a larger community of activism that exists. Especially if you stay on campus for your entire time at Andover you become familiar with the activists on campus but I think we might become disconnected from the larger network of activism outside the campus. I feel like going to a march… was still an opportunity to re-engage with activism outside of the smaller community,” said Tulloch.

Marchers held signs with messages such as “Stay woke,” “Grab ’em by the midterms,” and “Juntos con Planned Parenthood.” Katherine Wang ’21, who carried a sign that read “She the people,” felt marching was critical to being an American citizen.

“It’s kind of hard not to be an activist. Especially since the news is always changing and new stuff is always happening… I definitely look forward to expressing my beliefs in the future. Protests are patriotic,” Wang said.

Solby Lim ’18 agreed.

“As an activist and a feminist it’s really important for me to show my voice and be with people who think like me and who are inspiring,” said Lim.

The Andover march organizers asked marchers to focus on giving a voice to underprivileged citizens, especially in affluent areas such as Andover.

“We need to find ways to center the voices of women from our most marginalized communities and bring the issues they face to the forefront, especially those of us living in areas where those voices are often drowned out by a privileged majority,” said the organizers of the march in a statement posted on their Facebook page.

Compared to last year, students and faculty felt the atmosphere around protesting has changed.

“I feel like the energy changed because last year… it was the day after Trump was elected so I felt like there was so much more electricity… people were furious in the moment and I feel like now there’s still fury, but it’s more a resigned fury… But the electricity was still there in the sense that people were still engaged,” Tulloch said.

However, Cai-Hurteau said she felt marching was not a sufficient way to make change.

“I went to the Women’s March in [Washington] last year with my family and it was a very powerful day. I feel like within this last year, I’ve participated in more marches, but… you almost a lot of times feel powerless even if you are marching, it feels as if you are not doing enough,” she said.

Looking forward, some marchers intend to focus on different types of activism.

“I think just educating myself more on the things that I don’t know and then engaging in more dialogue with people on campus as well as people from home because they’re definitely two completely different perspectives. Maybe having an open mind and just trying to learn from others and learn more about myself, too,” said Colon.

Cai-Hurteau brought her eight-year-old daughter, Kaya Cai-Hurteau, to the march as well as the Women’s March on Washington last January.

“Ever since last year, she’s been to all the marches and protests with me… She, as a biracial child, has to figure out what her identity is and how she fits into all of this. Her political identity ties into all of that, so she is very interested… It’s important for her to feel like she’s participating in political process even when she’s young,” Lilia Cai-Hurteau said.

“I can’t imagine coming here without her because it is really for her. She is the future and it’s going to be her world, it’s going to be our students’ world that we’re leaving. If they don’t participate in it, we are not teaching them well,” Lilia Cai-Hurteau continued.