Person of the Year 2017: The Unexpected Activist

Seattle Magazine presents the Most Influential Seattleites of 2017.

By Virginia Smyth November 1, 2017


This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Seattle magazine.

It’s been a year in which locals have taken to the streets time and time again—so frequently that barely a week or weekend has gone by without a protest, march or event spilling into Seattle streets and filling public spaces.

From anti-Trump and pro-Trump rallies to Block the Bunker events, immigration rights walks, a tax march, a climate march, a science march and anti-hate gatherings, the city has hosted them all and many more.

And while it’s likely that there are seasoned activists behind many of these events, the more than 100,000 participants in the Womxn’s March on Seattle are emblematic of this year’s person of the year. When you have that many people participating in an event, you can bet that many of them are new to the role of activist.

Of course, the current wave of activism didn’t start this year—Trayvon Martin’s killing, the Dakota Access Pipeline, the $15-an-hour minimum wage—in Seattle and across the country, these events and many others galvanized citizens to take action. But there’s also no doubt that the unexpected election of Donald Trump to the nation’s highest office (almost all national polls had predicted a different outcome) brought out many new locals to become activists, not surprisingly given Seattle’s liberal leanings.

Whatever position our unexpected activists hold, we salute their involvement in our democracy. As one 78-year-old participant in the Womxn’s March on Seattle noted in a Seattle Times interview: “It’s important to back a democracy by your physical presence.” Or to quote a slogan oft used by activists: “The world is run by those who show up.”

In 2017, that’s just what many Seattleites did. Maybe you did too?

Read about the rest of the Most Influential Seattleites of 2017 here.


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