Earth Day in Washington was met with rain, pink brains and cheering for science.
Rallies and marches have become commonplace in Washington since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, but this one was unique. Instead of being focused on a specific identity, the March for Science was a cause that anyone, from a child to a teacher to a store owner, could get behind.
“We are gathered here today to fight for science. We are gathered to fight for education, to fight for knowledge, and to fight for planet Earth,” said Cara Santa Maria, a science communicator.
The March for Science started with about four hours of speakers and musical performances, and as the day went on, the National Mall filled with tens of thousands of people, with more waiting in line to get in.
Although the rain led to some people leaving early, it didn’t stop those who were attending the march from dancing in the rain to songs like “She Blinded Me With Science.”
Speakers led the crowd in chants like “Public” “Health” and advocated for the type of science that they studied. Speakers weren’t just professors at universities, but all sorts of professions, like YouTube creator Tyler DeWitt, author Andrea Beaty, Questlove and students who are passionate about science.
Taylor Richardson, a 13-year-old girl who aspires to be an astronaut, said, “Science is not a boy’s game or a girl’s game.”
The organizers of the march repeatedly said that the march was not anti-Trump, but many of the signs at the march referred to Trump and the actions that he has taken since entering office.
Some of the signs referring to Trump read “Science=Real, Trump=Fake,” “Pro-Facts” and “Trump’s Anti-Science Budget Bus.”
“I feel very strongly that science is being ignored by the administration right now, and so I felt it was time to step up and take action. I always try to promote to my students that we have to listen to the facts. The facts are facts, they’re not alternative facts,” said Kim Laham, a chemistry professor at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey.
Signs and the clothing that many were wearing showed a love of science, from the pink, knitted brain beanies, similar to the hats of the Women’s March on Washington, to lab coats.
The people attending the march included children passionate about science and their parents, including Derek Womboldt from Lansing, Michigan, who attended with his two sons, Connor and Dylan, and his wife, Becky.
“We got two little guys that love science, Connor and Dylan. We want science to be the forefront in our policy-making so that we can stop wasting so much of our resources,” said Womboldt.
Many science students attended, including one who held up a sign that read “I did not pass organic chemistry for this.”
Vanessa Quinlivan, a biochemistry graduate student from Baltimore, Maryland said, “I decided to do this because I think that basic research is really important. I think a lot of people don’t make the connect that all of scientific knowledge will eventually have some sort of application. Everything is connected.”
Although there is controversy in the scientific community about whether they should be politicizing science, the leaders of the march were very clear.
Derek Muller, the creator of the YouTube channel Veritasium said, “Science is inherently political.”
Shira Stein is a reporting intern for the Herald in Washington, D.C., and a student at American University. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @stein_shira.