Copley Square immigration march: 'Our opinions matter'

January 30, 2017

Video of a Jan. 29, 2017 protest at Copley Square, Boston by Evan Robinson-Johnson
It was hard to quantify what was being shown and said on the news about President Trump’s ban on immigration from some countries with large Muslim populations. But it was clear people were being treated unfairly, and it also seemed possible that we could change that. Still, I was unsure of my decision to follow my dad to a march in downtown Boston.
Then in church on Sunday morning, Jan. 29, 2017, at The United Parish of Auburndale the congregation got what can best be described as a comprehensive analysis of President Trump’s executive order during the Morning Announcements. What stood out to me was this: 1) these actions are unprecedented and must not be allowed to set a precedent. And 2) our opinions matter.
So we went.
A group of four of us: my dad, pastor of UPA; myself, and two members, one of whom had been persuaded to go by the announcement – and likely shared
Evan Robinson-Johnson
some of my apprehensions. Yet she was impassioned and eager to get out with so many others to make her voice heard. The other member we traveled with had her own sign that read “Education not Deportation.”
As seen toward the end of the video clip, we met another protester at the rally who was very happy to see our friend’s sign. She held a sign of her own explaining that she teaches students from all around the world with immigrant families.
As we rode on the train, more people filled it up, and more signs poked out into the aisle. We exited by the convention center and followed the surging mass marked by pink hats and bold signs to Copley Square.
We passed the towering Under Armour Store and polished Apple Store, reminders to me that life goes on. I wonder if the people shopping in those stores were aware of the protest a block away.
As we approached the epicenter of the rally, Copley Square, large trucks loomed before us. Protection, I assume. What a world we live in.
We stepped into the action, carving out a path through the people to various destinations, me with my phone held high to get the shots you see in the movie.
What’s hard to capture in the film is the emotion. It’s hard to see even when you’re there. It is more felt. Being surrounded by thousands of people, willing to spend their time standing in the mud, chanting and wailing on drums, it fills me with emotion.
From a more critical standpoint, however, I think there is a downside to this emotion. It is entirely possible that in my youthful naivety I do not understand these rallies, but I think that there are better ways to solve the problems we face. Sure, it feels empowering to be surrounded by so many. It feels good to cry about a wound, and to let out large cheers (as you can hear in the video). But the cheers end, and we walk away. I still want to know what impact the rally I participated in will have. Only time will reveal the answer.
My dad kept emphasizing the magnitude of this event. Signs everywhere read “History is watching US” and “History must not repeat itself.”
By the end of this day, I had come to the conclusion that an individual has as much power to change the course of history as any other individual. I hope that myself and others might be able to find that power to create a history we are proud of. 

Evan Robinson-Johnson, a high school junior, is working as a reporting and photography volunteer for the New England Conference Communications Office.