Protests, Large and Small, Usher in Trump Presidency

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Rutgers University student Carimer Andujar at a protest (Mel Evans / Associated Press)

Donald Trump has not enacted policy yet, but people are organizing to fight his agenda. Some even say that his rhetoric, ideas and sensational tweets are helpful to mobilization efforts.

"That’s why I was happy for a Trump presidency," said Hawk Newsome, president of Black Lives Matter Greater New York. "Trump’s presidency makes people want to get active and fight back. Those are the people we want to bring in the fold."

Since Election Day, there have been vigils, rallies and marches, with the largest demonstrations planned for this Saturday. The Women's March on Washington expects approximately 200,000 demonstrators. More than 600 sister marches are planned in all 50 states and around the world. 

And the people showing up to all these events — and even planning them — are both seasoned activists and those who are newly inspired to protest. 

"It’s not an overstatement to say that my efforts in the past eight to 10 weeks are representative of more political activity than what I undertook in the past eight to 10 years combined," said Carol Archer Boboris, an attorney who lives in Port Washington, N.Y. and works in Manhattan. 

Since Election Day, Archer Boboris has planned fundraisers for Planned Parenthood, joined a national lawyers group focusing on civil and human rights, signed up for her local Democratic club and joined the board of a local non-profit community center, among other things.

And as more newcomers get involved in protests or community groups, veteran activists are refining their strategies. 

Newsome said that Black Lives Matter Greater New York (which is not technically affiliated with the national organization) meets multiple times each week to brainstorm. Following the 2016 election, the group decided it will focus efforts on getting black New Yorkers registered to vote, and educate them on voting in their own interests, ahead of the 2017 New York City mayoral election.

"We’re trying to find avenues to help people get involved in this movement," said Newsome. "We don’t want you to follow us. We want you to be empowered."

Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU, which represents service workers, said the union is also working to refine its message of higher wages and communicate it more broadly to workers outside of major cities. 

"How do we infuse the Fight for $15 with the elements of discontent that are out there — that also captures the imagination and support of workers that clearly voted with Trump?" said Figueroa. "We have to win their hearts and minds again."

In many ways, the work ahead for social justice causes, like wages, housing and homelessness, will remain unchanged, said Michael Walrond Jr., senior pastor at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem. It's just a matter of staying the course, he said.

"I tell people often, activism is not really event based, said Walrond. "Activism is about sustained engagement." 

He said protest must be connected to policy and any demonstration or rally must come with an end game.

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