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16 students who went to D.C. march plan to use experience for momentum

Group meeting for grass-roots action

By Breanna Salary
On February 3, 2017

Photo provided by Mariah Hickman/Courtbouillon
Mariah Hickman, a mass communication junior from Minneapolis, poses (center) with two other Dillard University students before the Women's March in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21. Sixteen DU students made the trip, along with others from Louisiana State University, University of New Orleans and Louisiana Tech.

Breanna Salary

BATON ROUGE, La. (Feb. 3, 2017) -- Sixteen Dillard University students, including five males, were among the estimated half-million Americans in the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, and they want the momentum to continue, according to the adjunct faculty member who made it possible and the students.

Toi Carter, an adjunct sociology teacher, said the students have started an off-campus organization called March On. Since then, students have been writing letters to legislators and calling congressmen and women to voice their concerns along with meeting to plan next steps.

Additionally, a first-person narrative by one of the student travelers, Mariah Hickman, a mass communication major from Minneapolis, is expected to run in the March issue of Dillard Today magazine.

The DU students were among about 30 Louisiana college students on the bus, including some from Louisiana State University, University of New Orleans and Louisiana Tech, along with others from the area.

Carter sent an email to DU students Jan. 9 informing them of a bus trip to the march Jan. 19-22, with 30 seats and some sponsorships available. After writing a paragraph on why they wanted to attend, 16 students from Dillard were selected.

“I had so much to say that my paragraph turned into an essay,” said Ahkeem Dowl, a sophomore psychology major from New Orleans. Dowl said he wanted to attend the march because he’s concerned about his mother, three sisters and two nieces.

In addition to Dowl, four other males made the trip: Brandon Blakely, Quincy Laurent, Jomorion Mitchell and Revis Jackson.

In addition to Hickman, the female DU student travelers were Melinda Allen, Anika Anderson, Dallas Franklin, Jeanna Johnson, Jada Jordan, Richelle Peck, Ajia Richardson, Amanda Smith, Amber Taylor and Madison Torry.

The huge crowd in Washington, projected to have been larger than President Donald Trump’s inaugural audience the day before, was similar by similar protests around the world for women’s rights, human rights and equality for all.

Carter found sponsors for the students who could not financially afford the trip. These sponsors paid for all expenses—bus ticket, metrocard, food, and hotel, for the students’ entire three-day trip. The trip cost $225 per person, including a 16-hour bus ride each way and one night’s stay in Virginia. Carter didn’t want to share much about the sponsors, but she shared with each student some information about them so they could communicate with each other.

Dowl’s sponsor, for example, was a native of Louisiana who was not able to attend the march in Washington, so she helped sponsor a student while she went to the New Orleans march with her two daughters, he reported.

Carter said about 20 sponsors from places such as California, New York, Texas and even one from Indonesia, made the trip possible – all from grassroots movements around the country.

Torry, a sophomore political science major from Dentin, Fla., said this was her first time engaging in such an event. She said she was nervous on the ride up since she’d only seen protests on the news. Once she got there, however, she said it became an emotional experience because of the unity and diversity, with members of the crowd supporting one another.

Hickman said the march is only the beginning: “The real action comes less from the march and more from what people do after the march.”

The students interviewed agreed they felt they were a part of history and their presence had sent a message to the Trump administration.

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