A journey of protest

Senior Caroline Hamilton’s Path To Activism


Caroline Hamilton

The Black Lives Matter movement has taken off in recent years, and Caroline Hamilton has been an ally.

Cheers, bright pink hats, determination and hope surrounded senior Caroline Hamilton as she attended the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., the event that would spark Hamilton’s long-lasting passion for activism. Throughout high school, Hamilton has been politically active and attended six marches, including Black Lives Matter protests, the Women’s March and the March For Our Lives. However, activism had not always played such a role in her life. 

“I had always been interested in politics because I lived so close to D.C., and current events and government have just always been there, and a part of my life,” Hamilton said. “However, in fourth grade, the Sandy Hook shooting happened, which shook me a lot, but I felt like I couldn’t make that much of a difference. I couldn’t vote, I didn’t have social media for learning about issues and voicing my thoughts, and I couldn’t really organize or attend protests.” 

However, by the time the Parkland, Fla., school shooting happened, in which 17 people were killed, then-freshman Hamilton was old enough to feel like she could do something about it. In response to the shooting, W-L students held a walkout, which Hamilton attended. 

 “It was chilling to see staff members and other students all together and listening to the stories about the victims, because the people killed were staff members and students, and it could’ve happened at our school,” Hamilton said. “Even as a freshman … what was so inspiring to me was knowing that even though I couldn’t vote, other people that were there could, and they could bring positive change.” 

Despite the pandemic, Hamilton’s passion has continued growing stronger.

 “No one was really encouraged to go protest, but a pandemic can’t stop people from protesting about issues that they really care about,” Hamilton said. “At the one I went to for Black Lives Matter, people were checking temperatures and handing out wristbands to those who passed the check, and masks were also 100 percent required. They were really making the effort to make it as COVID[-19]-safe as possible.”

According to Hamilton, there is a common thread between all of the protests she has been to, despite them being about separate issues.

“At the core of each [protest], a group is being treated unfairly, and change needs to happen,” Hamilton said. “I think the most memorable parts of activism for me have been seeing people come together on issues, and you really get to see that oftentimes there’s so much positivity associated with it.” 

One of Hamilton’s favorite memories, according to her, was even more special due to her passion for politics. 

“The day that Joe Biden won the election was just so incredible,” Hamilton said. “I was in D.C., and there were people out on their balconies cheering, people honking their horns, crying, laughing and smiling, and just feeling so joyful. I was like ‘oh my gosh, we’ve made it.’” 

Hamilton has not yet been able to vote, but is looking forward to that as well. 

“I know that when I do, I’ll feel empowered and as if I have the ability to make real change,” Hamilton said. “Throughout history, people fought for decades to be able to vote and stand up for what they believe in, so, out of respect for their legacies, I’m extremely excited to vote.” 

Politics also found a way into Hamilton’s college decisions, as she aimed to attend a school in a liberal town. 

“I like being surrounded by those who are passionate about the same issues that I am,” Hamilton said. “I’m fortunate enough to be attending the University of Wisconsin, which is in Madison, the capital of a state where oftentimes a lot of political action occurs, which I’m really excited for.” 

Hamilton will be majoring in environmental science, which, like politics, aims to make the world a better place.

“I’ve always just been super passionate about protecting the Earth and making conscious lifestyle choices to be mindful of my footprint, and what I’m leaving behind,” Hamilton, who is also vegan, said. “Indirectly, I think living so close to D.C. made me more politically active and aware of the world around me and the impact I can make on it.” 

Hamilton has also learned a variety of lessons through protesting. 

“I’ve learned that you should be politically active, because you have a right to do it, and the importance of standing up for what you think is right,” Hamilton said. “Attending protests is also one of those things where one day, I’ll be able to tell my kids that ‘yeah, I was there on that day,’ and that I was a part of something bigger than myself. Activism isn’t about yourself, but I think it makes you feel good because you’re standing up for people who might not be able to stand up for themselves.”