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The rough count for the Women’s March in New Orleans was 10,000 people. Hundreds of thousands marched in Chicago, in New York, in LA; probably millions, in total.

In 2017, I marched with my girlfriend and some of my friends from work. This year, the same people were friends from my regular life. We’ve worked on extracurricular projects. We’ve attended documentary screenings together. We’ve resisted, together and separately, in the ways we felt we could. We’ve been angry, and sad, and hopeful together. Twelve tumultuous months have brought these friends into my life, and I am grateful.

Being surrounded by thousands of people who care about the same thing you do, who are angry and sad in the same way you often are, is an incredibly powerful feeling. Those of us who had signs held them high; slogans ranged from what must have been left over from a Hillary Clinton campaign rally to pretty much everything else you can think of. Everyone has their favorite causes. But we all came out.

Though of course marching alone is not enough. In Louisiana, almost anything is an excuse to make a lot of noise and go for a decorative walk through the city. We’re already gearing up for Mardi Gras, which is basically a march in support of the right to celebrate in the dead of winter. A march is a powerful symbol, an opportunity to stand up and be counted, to voice opposition – but I will try to paraphrase Angela Adkins, one of the first speakers at the end of the march: The march can be the first day of your efforts, but it must not be the last. If all 10,000 people gave two hours of their time a week to an organization in their community – if we could generate 20,000 hours of volunteer time a week – we could change the world.

If Louisiana, a red Southern state with one of the highest conservative populations by percentage in the union, can organize a march with 10,000 attendees, what else could we do? If we worked for what we love every day, what could we do?

Last year, I started volunteering as a clinic escort. I attended a few meetings, but eventually let it fall by the wayside, because life is complicated and eventful. This year, I’m not going to give up.

I can’t be quiet. I’ll see you at the march next year.