by Gabrielle Bianco ’21
“Time’s Up.” “Liberty and Justice for All.” “Resist.” Slogans such as these were emblazoned on signs at the Rhode Island Women’s March, held on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at the Rhode Island State House. Thousands were in attendance in response to actions by the government and current president which are threatening to the rights of women, minorities, immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community. In a time in which people are frustrated by the measures taken by the government, it is up to civilians to be instruments of change in their communities.
While a number of activists from different backgrounds spoke at the march, no politicians took to the podium. The decision to not have any politicians speak lent itself well to the purpose of the march, which was to focus on civilian social justice rather than politics.
Each of the speakers discussed a unique issue concerning social justice that plagues our country today and described how they are working to make a positive change.
Civic engagement is vital to any democracy. The 2016 election season was marred by strife and frustration coming from many Americans who felt that the bureaucracy and the “big business” politics of the government had left them in the dust. The government, however, only has so much influence in the day to day activities of civilians, so it is up to citizens to elicit change.
The scope of service and social justice is so wide that anyone can find a cause to support using their own skills. Actions such as voting, volunteering, supporting local businesses, protesting, and even running for office are just a few examples of courses of action people can take to make a difference. While it might seem easier to be patriotic in a time when people are proud of their government, true patriotism comes from engaging in civic duty and working to better the nation where there is room for improvement.
If history can serve as a map of sorts for where the country has been and where it can go, then the recent social justice movements prove to be promising for the future. Throughout history, change has occurred not as the result of the actions of one person in the executive branch, but rather by groups of committed individuals whose actions create ripple effects throughout the nation. The road to progress is not easy by any means—there is still a lot of work to be done—but movements such as the Women’s March will hopefully lay a solid foundation for future advancements.
The Providence College community was well represented at the march, with many students attending and showing their support and passion for equality. The march comes at a fitting time for PC students, having just celebrated Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation week. Just as Dr. King, Jr. served as a titan of social justice, a new generation of students and leaders is preparing to take the reins of the future. Dr. King, Jr.’s words were recited at the march: “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
As we march forward into 2018, we must all take it upon ourselves to follow the moral arc of the universe, and stand up for what is right to ensure a more equal and just tomorrow.