On January 20, 2018, Chattanooga echoed with the chant of, “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Now!” Crowds gathered in Coolidge Park on that Saturday beginning at 11 a.m., and marching began at noon. The march stretched 1.99 miles from Coolidge all the way to Broad Street and back. Whether rain or shine, these people planned to march.
The voices of women and men rose as one, a testament to the battles already fought and a declaration of determination to fight the battles to come.
Every person there marched for a different reason. Their signs acted as a window into their stories, beliefs, and convictions. Some signs were reactions to the current presidency (“It’s the super-calloused-fragile-racist-sexist-nazi-POTUS!”) and some demanded President Donald Trump be impeached.
Some marched for those who were never given a chance: “We March for the Unborn.” Other signs demanded a continual fight for equality for the marginalized and were a reminder of the strength women possess: “We are Women; Hear Us Roar in Numbers too Big to Ignore!”, “Respect my existence, or expect my resistance!”, and “EQUALITY for all!”
Above all, the marchers’ signs made it clear they have had enough. They will not be silent about what must change.
Another chant ringing out over Chattanooga was, “Say it loud, say it clear: immigrants are welcome here!” The city marched for the rights of marginalized women across the United States: black, white, refugee, and immigrant alike. A huge banner from the Democratic Socialists of America hung from Walnut Street Bridge, carrying the words, “Demand justice for incarcerated, impoverished, undocumented women everywhere.”
Chattanooga marched for the past, present, and future. They marched so the work of women and men from decades ago would not be forgotten. They marched on behalf of the women who have never had the freedom to march for themselves. And finally, they marched as a reminder of all that still needs to change.
The Chattanooga women’s march was, above all, a call for justice. Regardless of one’s political leanings, faith in Christ demands standing for justice. It demands praying for the day when every wrong will be made right and every victim is given a voice. Christianity should lead us to long for gender and race to be seen as marks of a creative, beautiful God. One day, a history of systematic oppression and harmful stereotypes will no longer trap women into questioning their worth, intellect, and potential. One day, women across the world will be free of corrupt laws and a corrupt justice system. And one day, little girls of every race and background will look in the mirror and see that they bear the image of a good Creator. Until then, the women’s march is a call to Christians to pray constantly for broken people and broken systems to be redeemed.