Morgan Hylton is a 19-year-old junior English major studying abroad in Hatfield, U.K., this semester.
Saturday, January 21st, 2017, is a day that I will always remember as one of the most empowering and awe-inspiring days of my life. As my friends and family rallied in the United States to march in solidarity for peace, human rights, women’s rights and many other pressing issues, I also found a way to make my voice heard while abroad. By way of an old friend from my childhood who happened to marry a British man and move to London, I found out about the Women’s March on London and immediately knew I had to participate.
I awoke Saturday morning full of anticipation. I wasn’t expecting a very big turnout, seeing as London is thousands of miles away from the U.S. and I wasn’t sure how important the march would seem to the people here. However, I found my expectations were very wrong once I got off the train. The streets were flooded with men, women, and children of all ages, races and sexual orientations, all sporting clever signs and clad in shirts with encouraging phrases written on them.
As I walked from block to block in search of my friend, I had tears in my eyes for most of the jaunt. I had never experienced anything so powerful and genuinely heartwarming in my entire life. Everywhere I looked were signs that displayed things like “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” and “End Sexual Slavery Now,” among other incredibly powerful messages that I couldn’t have agreed with more.
After finding my friend and securing a spot in line for the main march, we waited for about an hour for the procession. When it finally started, we inched along the road from Grosvenor Square to Trafalgar Square, passing several embassies along the way—including America’s. Standing beside our embassy with people from all over the world and fighting for what we believe in was a bone-chilling experience.
In total, I was either in line or marching for about four hours. We walked past main roads where people in cars would honk and cheer in support of us, and at one point we even took over a road that wasn’t predetermined to be closed. This caused us to march around the classic black cabs of London, which was another unforgettable moment. The entire day felt so much bigger than myself, which made it all the more compelling. I was 3,600 miles away from home but still fighting for my version of the American dream.
Upon returning to my apartment in Hatfield, I logged onto my computer to see that the Women’s March on Washington was in full swing. I sat back and reflected on what I had just been a part of and realized how thankful I was for the opportunity and freedom to be part of such a massive demonstration. Although it may not have been Washington, we sure gave it a good go across the pond.