After an earthshaking election night, students at South Eugene High School wanted to send a message that hate and fear does not represent them. Hundreds of students gathered in front of their high school Wednesday at noon, carrying signs. They buzzed with energy, frustration and hope.
High school student Maia Barnebey says students decided to march because they weren't happy with the results of the election. "We didn't get a say in this," Barnebey explained. As a member of the LGBTQ community, she worries a Trump administration will take away her right to marry. She said she also fears for women's rights and her ability to make decisions about her own body.
"I just wanna live my life," she pointed out.
"And I just wanna live," said Angel McNabb-Lyons, who came to the rally to express her dissastisfaction with the uptick in hate crimes and racial slurs, which she and her friends have personally been victimized by.
"I was shocked," she said of the outcome of the election.
Students emphasized that the rally was not an anti-Trump rally (although several students carried "Fuck Trump" signs), but rather, a gathering in support of love, peace and acceptance.
As students marched down 18th Avenue towards the University of Oregon campus, they carried signs and cheered as cars drove by and honked in support. People lined the streets, filming the rally and calling out their approval.
Students chanted for the environment, for reproductive rights, for LGBTQ rights, for women's rights, for racial equality. They shouted for peace and love, calling to "build bridges, not walls."
The procession made its way down 13th Avenue through the UO campus; faculty members and students emerged from buildings to watch the march, some with tears in their eyes. The large group convened on the Erb Memorial Union plaza, where hundreds crowded the pavilion to hold their signs and chant.
"As youth, we bear the biggest brunt of the consequences of this election," SEHS graduate Kelsey Juliana said into a megaphone, addressing the crowd. "We have to organize and come together and recognize that the youth are damn loud!"
Miles Pendleton, the president of the Eugene-Springfield NAACP's Youth Council, took the megaphone and spoke of his father who lived in the South in the 1950s and wasn't allowed to walk through the front doors of restaurants. He said his father was greatly discouraged by the outcome of the election. "We need to stand together right now to make this country the place we want it to be," he said.
As high school students continued their march down 13th, college students joined in the procession.
"These are high school students doing this," one college student remarked. "How cool is that?"