Maybe this is you first march, maybe its your hundredth. Regardless of how experienced you are, marches and rallies can be a bit intimidating. To help you out, here are the top ten things we think all marchers should know:
1. Everyone Feels a Little Uncomfortable: Standing up for what you think is right can make you feel vulnerable. Add to that the fact that you're surrounded by strangers and you've got a recipe for discomfort. Never fear! Chances are, those around you feel the same way. No need to feel like you're the social awkward one.
2. Making New Friends Can be the Best Part: Because so many people may feel a little out of their element, saying hello to those around you can go a long way to put everyone at ease. Additionally, some of the people you interact with may turn out to be some of the most inspiring people you'll ever meet. Think about it, you're surrounded by a bunch of passionate, like-minded marchers. This is a perfect opportunity to make new friends and be inspired by others stories.
3. Be Mindful of Children and Those with Disabilities: Marches can get crowded, and its easy for children to be separated from their families and those with physical disabilities to be left behind or even injured. Please be courteous to those around you and don't be afraid to offer help to those who may need it. It is also important to stay clear of any areas designated for wheel chairs of those in need of ADA accommodations.
4. No Sign Necessary: Didn't have time to make a sign? Who cares? Your presence is all that matters.
5. There May be Counter-Protesters: It is not uncommon for those with opposing view to show up and make their voices heard. This is typical, and the best thing you can do is to not engage, keep things peaceful, and continue along the march route. If you do feel unsafe, contact the authorities for help instead of trying to solve the problem yourself.
6. Listen to the Speakers: Those that are most affected by whatever your marching for/against may be asked to speak at the beginning or end of the march (sometimes both!). Marching for their rights means nothing if you're not also willing to hear what they have to say and learn from their stories.
7. Get Permission Before Taking a Picture: Sure, take that selfie, but if you see an adorable child with a cute sign, or even an adult with a clever sign, please ask for permission before taking a photo.
8. Dress Appropriately for the Weather: It can be hot during the march itself, but standing around before and after may be chilly. Wear layers and comfortable shoes. Additionally, make sure your phone, keys, wallet, and other valuable are tucked away out of sight.
9. Keep The Area Clean: Please be sure that any signs, food, soda cans, etc. that you bring with you leave with you. Leaving a mess behind is disrespectful to those who live and work in the area. Additionally, that is more work for the volunteers, who are often small in number, to do.
10. Marching is Just the Beginning: It is easy to show up, march, and feel like you've done your part, but the truth is a march is just the beginning. Contact your local representatives, get involved with advocacy groups, volunteer your time and resources. A march can be a great way to send a message and raise awareness, but it doesn't solve a problem. Only your continued hard work can.
Follow these tips and you're sure to have a wonderful experience.