As I entered the rally in the Plaza de Cesar Chavez, I was greeted by a huge uproar from the crowd gathered there. The speaker onstage was Cindy Chavez, a San Jose city council member. Chavez spoke of how proud she was of her city to come out and march in support of women’s rights, and the city responded in kind, cheering for her at every opportunity they had.
At the rally, we were told that over 30,000 people were in attendance, yet somehow it felt like more. There were people as far as the eye could see, all together in support of one another’s rights.
What struck me as particularly strange, or in this case admirable, was the atmosphere of peace about the rally. Yes, of course there were signs made particularly to bash President Donald Trump. However, speakers at the event seemed much more focused on endorsing inclusivity in the community and working together to protect one another, rather than attacking Trump.
“As a man of color, it’s really important that I come out here. We have a new government, a new president. I’m here with my neighbors, trying to make my voice heard,” one man in the crowd said, who wished to remain anonymous.
Various organizations also had booths set up further away from the stage. LGBTQ Youth Space, Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, the American Association of University Women, and an anti-nuclear weapon organization named Raging Grannies were among those in attendance. Many of these organizations were passing out flyers and forms to try and get the community involved through volunteering and donating.
“I was part of Women’s Liberation in the Seventies,” one anonymous AAUW volunteer said. “Part of what we were fighting was the nasty, demeaning remarks that our new administration condones. We haven’t tolerated that.”
Intolerance of this new administration appeared to be the tone of the whole event. One speaker who touched on this was Shay Franco-Clausen, who demanded that we all stand up and vote against the Trump White House whenever possible. She stated that nobody should sit idly by and watch the bullying of this administration toward African Americans, immigrants, refugees, and the LGBT community.
Talking to many people in the crowd while taking pictures, as I tend to do, I heard a lot of the same thought processes. Protesters in San Jose were disgusted by what they heard and saw from Donald Trump on the campaign trail, and believe it is their duty to stand up and speak out against this new presidency. Some in the crowd even had set goals for themselves that they wish to achieve while Trump is in the Oval Office. One of these people was Peace Ambassador Trisha Dolkas. Peace Ambassadors were volunteers in the area to make sure everyone attending the rally was adhering to the rules of nonviolence.
“For me, I was so horrified at what happened, with Trump winning, my promise to myself was that I was going to do something every day until he’s out of there,” Dolkas said.
Overall, I was very moved by the speakers and attendees of the rally. It showed a lot of strength for an entire community to come together like this and speak their minds, just as people were doing all across the nation. But if there’s one thing I learned today more than anything else, it is that San Jose, California, and America are going to be fine. Especially with citizens like these.