This is what democracy looks like

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I woke up Saturday to a tornado watch and rain pounding against my window. As lightning lit up the sky and thunder shook the ground, I prepared myself both mentally and physically for what was to come.

My friend and coworker, Julia, and I got in my car and headed into the city to participate in the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women. While on Ga. 400, the sky became darker and it started to rain harder. We kept joking, asking each other, “Is this an omen?”

But we figured some rain couldn’t stop us.

When we got downtown, the air was electric — and not from the storm.

I don’t quite know what I was expecting. I’ve never been one to publicly share my political stances.

On social media, I may “like” a photo, but I try my best to stay neutral. I have family and friends on both sides, and I’d like to keep them in my life, more so I respect them and their right to believe what they want.

My friends and I were excited. It has been a rough election cycle and we needed a chance for all of us to get together and express how we were feeling. Thankfully, the march gave us that opportunity and, even more so, thankfully it was peaceful.

We weren’t there for a fight.

Of course, I heard heckles from people who didn’t understand or agree with what we were doing.

And I did see marchers holding signs and chanting slogans that I didn’t necessarily agree with or think were appropriate.

But that’s not what will stick with me.

For me, the march was a positive, uplifting, passionate movement.

When it was raining, we held umbrellas over one another and shared ponchos.

Every time we passed a group of police officers, the entire crowd would start to cheer, clap, hug, line up to high-five and genuinely appreciate and respect our law enforcement.

When we passed a church along the route, clerical members and officials stood outside, handing out water bottles and telling the group their restrooms were open to all, and they had places to rest.

I was overwhelmed by the love I saw from pretty much everyone.

We were there in unity. While we may not have all agreed nor had the same views on the issues that brought marchers to the event, we all were there to show that we had a voice and we weren’t backing down.

I didn’t go to the march to make a statement about our new president, as opposed to what many people believe.

No, instead I was there to show that I am united with anyone who feels like their voices aren’t heard. I was there to stand up for what I believe. I was there to show solidarity.

I believe that when a group of people want to accomplish something they feel strongly about, they are successful, regardless of gender, religion, skin color, sexual orientation, or really anything.

It’s an American right and privilege to be able to speak our minds without fear of repercussion. Just check the First Amendment.

I think we did that on Saturday. We may not have accomplished something tangible, but we made a statement. We were seen, heard and empowered.

And that makes me proud to be an American. March on.


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