Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, Little Miss Flint 2016, may be known for her very different reactions in meeting former President Barack Obama and then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. But the next title she plans to seek promises to be even bigger.
“I want to be president in 2044,” she told Vox.
The Women’s March on Washington may have been led by women who were disappointed after the presidential election, but the loudest voices may have come from those who couldn’t vote, but soon will. As one of the organizers of the march, Paola Mendoza, explained to Vox from the group’s headquarters Thursday night, “those that are 14 right now are voting in four years. … They’re our hope.”
And boy did they turn out in droves. According to the New York Times, the march was three times bigger than the event that took place one day before, the inauguration of Donald Trump. Although it’s hard to quantify exactly how many people under the age of 18 made up those numbers, the ones who showed up were fired up.
Mendoza explained that while she may not be able to be vote, she’s not waiting until the next election to take action. “As a black girl I feel like whatever I do, I’m politicized,” she explained. “This will definitely not be the last march. I do think that this presidency will strike a lot of activism in a lot of people. I will be making sure there are safe spaces for marginalized people and making sure I’m keeping people accountable so that my rights and other people’s rights aren’t being tampered with.”
Another youth ambassador said he had been activated by the election of Donald Trump. “I don’t know how it’s going to affect LGBT rights or women’s rights,” Shane Shananaquet, a young trans 14-year-old youth ambassador told Vox. “I’ve always wanted to speak out and do what’s right but I’m already so young and didn’t understand what’s right and wrong until recently.”
Peyton Allen, a 15-year-old who is president of her freshman class at Chatham Hall in Virginia, echoed a similar sentiment. “Even though I may not be able to vote yet it’s very important for me to have that voice and stand up for our rights as women.” Another 15-year-old girl sitting on a truck with her brothers and sisters credited the generation of feminists who came before her. “My mother raised me to be an independent woman. I want my kids to be free too, regardless of gender.” she told Vox.
While grown men were having debates about whether they would show up to an event called “the women’s march” many teenage boys could be seen cheering through the crowd. One group of boys was standing on top of a truck, leading a “show me what democracy looks like” chant as adult men and women all around them replied with “this is what democracy looks like.” When I asked them if they identified as feminists, they shouted “yes of course” as if my question was so obvious, it lacked intellectual curiosity. For the young boys of this politically activated generation, being part of a movement led by women isn’t controversial, it’s painfully normal.
Watching children listen to speakers during the march made me wonder if they were old enough to know who some of these feminist icons were. Maybe some of these young boys and girls may not yet recognize big names like Angela Davis or Gloria Steinem. But maybe that’s okay. Because perhaps the children who were in the crowd today will be the leaders at the podium of the marches of tomorrow.