On Friday, November 11, a protest named “We Are Better Together” was held in downtown Tulsa. The march, which began at the Center of the Universe, covered nearly five miles, bringing the crowd through the Blue Dome District to the BOK Center and, of course, back to the Center. The message of the event was broad in that it was meant to be a promotion of tolerance, love and acceptance; it was particular in its anti-Trump sentiment.
There are some discrepancies amongst local media outlets regarding the size of the protest. The Tulsa World claims the crowd was somewhere around 100-strong, but the Facebook page shows over 150 participants in the event as having attended, and a few pictures help capture this impressive scale.
No matter its size, the protesters made their message clear. Signs carried high above heads could read “Love Trumps Hate” on one side, and “This Pussy Grabs Back” on the other. “Not My President” was a popular message for the poster boards, but some preferred humor, such as, “If America had no immigrants, Trump wouldn’t have any wives.” Some sign-bearers showed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, others reinforced pro-choice ideals. Many of the signs, including an abundance of rainbow flags, supported the LGBTQ+ community, to which many of the event’s young organizers belonged.
The chants also addressed this variety of contentious topics. “Her Body, Her Choice” was emanated by the marchers as often as “Black Lives Matter,” and not many who had raised their voices for one hesitated for the other. Still, the duality of the event meant that when they weren’t promoting equality, protesters were voicing their disdain for Trump. “We Reject the President-Elect” was one popular phrase of the evening, while later on chant-leaders switched it up with, “Hey ho, Donald Trump has got to go!”
When the crowd wasn’t cheering they were often talking to each other, with many exchanging names, brief histories and their reaction to Trump’s election to the Executive office. While many of the protesters were college students, others had either long since graduated or were significantly younger. Alongside a handful of University of Tulsa students were a few members of TU faculty.
This protest made efforts to keep its rebellion within the realm of legality. The event was originally slated to begin on the Guthrie Green, but due to its privately-owned status was rescheduled for the Center. Outside of a few momentarily blocked streets in Brady Arts (the size of the crowd and its wish to stay together made this inevitable) the protesters performed no illegal action.
This doesn’t mean it didn’t occasionally attract opposition. One woman leaning out of a bar with her head over the crowd jeered incessantly at its members to “get a job.” When one man stopped to contest her by referring to his multiple jobs, someone else responded excitedly that he was “living the American Dream.” Another heckler came in the form of an irate stranger, who asked if protesters thought walking would change anything. “That’s what you’re out here doing right now?” he cried. “This is what you’re fighting?” Still others mockingly tailed the crowd, a few conjuring up no better argument than to produce gagging noises while taking pictures.
If any of this phased the protesters, they showed no sign. After about an hour and a half the march had looped participants back to the Center of the Universe, where the organizers made a few statements, despite the exhaustion evident in their hoarse voices.
“Look to your left; look to your right,” instructed a self-identified 21 year-old gay man. “These are your fellow brothers and sisters in America. We shall not hate!” To the crowd’s cheers he continued, saying, “We are tired of bigotry, we are tired of being hated for something we were born with!”
Another organizer urged intervention, saying, “don’t tolerate hate, don’t stand on the sidelines.”
Before the group dispersed, it made a final trip to Club Majestic, “to show them how much we love them!” Outside a few organizers, many of whom were under 20 years old, posed with their posters and agreed to an interview by a young woman in a hijab. When asked why, in their opinion, any American had voted for Trump, they hesitated only a moment. “Because they have hate in their hearts,” one finally said. “Anyone who voted for Trump voted for hate.”