Millions of people joined the Women’s March, wielding various protest signs and posters. Photo by Hannah Hurley

When I first stepped off the bus and into the chilly Washington D.C. air, I had no idea what to expect. I had spent the last 12 hours on a bus full of over 30 women, some strangers and some not. Through the long bus ride we discussed the reason why we were marching. As the question made its way to me I really had no idea how to answer it. I only knew that I felt I had to do something that made me feel as though my voice mattered.

The Women’s March on Washington started as a grassroots efforts between a set of diverse women that soon expanded to sister marches that expanded across all seven continents. I was lucky enough to join the three buses that pulled out of Birmingham and join in with the thousands of others who marched on Jan. 21, 2017.

After we left the buses, we walked through the streets of Washington to conversion on the rally that started the march. As we walked we were greeted with shouts and car honks and people waving out of windows at us. Some people even stood on the side of the street, offering us snacks and kind words. Everyone was cheering us on and as I saw the crowds grow larger I could not hold in my excitement.

At the rally there were signs and cheering and accepting words from everyone. I saw women and men from every walk of life. I talked to them, asked them where they were from, why they were marching and so much more. As I stood in the crowd cheering with these people I felt a connection and a collective power like I had never felt before.

There were a few hitches before the march began because more people had showed up than the demonstrators had planned for. The march route that had been planned could no longer accommodate us and so we took to the streets of Washington, making sure our voices were heard on every avenue.

It was overwhelming and simultaneously thrilling. In many ways the march was a sensory overload, but not in a way that was negative. So much was happening and so many people were there that I did not know what was happening half the time. I only knew that I was participating in something bigger than myself and I was making the first steps to the changes that I wanted to see. This was the reason why I marched.

More people than anyone ever expected showed up to D.C. and to the sister marches around the world. The impact that we made that day and the impact that I felt from participating in the march is something that I will never forget and I am not going to let anything that I learned there stop now. This was just the first step in a movement I hope will continue to change the world.