Wayne State’s campus was home to roughly 4,000 protesters marching in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21.
The Detroit protest march was one of 673 sister marches that took place worldwide, with an estimate of more than 4.8 million people participating. Protesters demonstrated from Peru to Thailand, and even an expedition ship in the Antarctic joined in.
The Detroit march started at 10 a.m. at Gullen Mall with thousands of women, men and children crowding campus for the protest.
The WSU Police Department and the Detroit Police Department were onsite to block off roads for the protests, and many in the crowd thanked and shook hands with officers along the route.
Protesters chanted against President Donald Trump and his cabinet members with calls including “Betsy DeVos is not our boss!” and “no hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here!” during the roughly two hour march.
Emily Gibson, a senior philosophy major at WSU, said she felt it was important to march because she needed a way to voice her support "for other women and marginalized groups.”
Gibson said she was inspired to march by strong women in her life and for her 10-year-old goddaughter.
She said she also marched for those who couldn’t.
“So many voices are silenced through corrupt systems and political inertia,” she said. “It was important to me to draw attention to not only issues facing women, but also those of people of color, those facing religious persecution and those of the LGBT community. President Trump needs to know that we are here, we are not going anywhere and we are watching.”
One of the symbols of the protest marches is the pink “pussy hat,” a hand-knitted hat with pointy “ears.” The hats are a reference to President Trump’s remarks from a leaked recording from 2005 on which he said he grabbed women by the genitals.
Gibson said that the hats were useful in drawing attention to women’s reproductive rights, but that focusing the movement on having a vagina could exclude transgender women.
“The ‘pussy hats’ certainly draw attention to two different issues,” she said.
“On one hand, reproductive rights are still a hotly debated issue in modern politics, and attention does need to be drawn to the battle that people with vaginas face when trying to secure birth control and other medical procedures.”
“However, the hats do show a divide that can be present in modern feminism,” she said. “There are certainly women in the world who do not have a vagina, but it does not mean that they should be excluded from the movement. Feminism must be intersectional in order to work.”
Also in attendance was Patricia Lay-Dorsey, a 74-year-old Detroit resident and photographer who has photographed the Occupy Detroit protests as well as the city’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
According to the Sister March campaign’s website, the goal of the protests was to send a message to the new Trump administration.
“In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore,” it said. “We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”