Why We Must March

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All photography by @tresrenee

On Monday morning, I was convinced by a friend to join the 2018 MLK Day March in Seattle. It was the first march I had ever participated in. It definitely won’t be the last.

I had tentatively planned to go, but on the morning of the march, I woke up with the beginning symptoms of a cold - and I almost backed out. Call it perfect Timing or coincidence, but my friend called me just as I finished up breakfast and began reading a restful book. With a small push, she successfully convinced me to go. Knowing my friend had been participated in countless marches before, catching a ride from her, and looping in another friend, I knew I was in good hands.

I came to the march empty handed, without any pre-made signs to state one of my opinions. I left the march full hearted, having viewed a variety of opinions shared during that time.

At the march, different ideas were gathered peacefully and shared freely. I can’t find that on my Facebook feed, where ideas are shared freely, but often not peacefully or constructively. I can’t find that in my closest friend circles, where the space is peaceful, but we often share freely our opinions that are more similar than different. Though I strive to build diverse friend circles and open attitudes, it is only at the march that I have been so physically close with so many people offering perspectives so new to me. Even if these marchers were my online friends, would their posts come up on my social media feed - with ever-changing algorithms that may filter and put first those that I already agree with? 

I didn’t agree with every sign I saw and person I met, and I loved it. We don’t come to marches to agree with everyone or convince anyone we are right. We come to share.

We share space, walking side by side on streets that have been closed down just so we can move forward together. We share time, choosing to be there with one another instead of somewhere else on our own agenda. We share our hearts, openly baring thoughts that matter deeply to us and which have been carefully written out on prepared signs. We share in our humanity, in how we have more similarity than difference - just by being human.

If you have marched before, invite others to experience it with you - like my friend did for me. If you’ve never marched before, try it out with empty and open hands, seeking to hear from those around you, listening before you speak. Then go to another march with something to say and - again - with ears to hear.

So, we must march - not merely because we have much to say or because it is our individual lawful right - but because marches are a place we gather in solidarity. In the crowds of a march, we stand side by side with the unexpected faces in our community and form the unlikeliest friendships with those we’d otherwise never meet. Even if outside the march we perhaps don’t directly see eye to eye, it’s in the march that we both say “I care, so I show up”.

The march is an inspiring place to be. I hope you’ll find it to be too.