Hundreds Gather to Reclaim Valentine’s Day for ‘Revolutionary Love and Resistance’

New Yorkers gathered in Washington Square Park to reclaim Valentine’s Day as a ‘Day of Revolutionary Love and Resistance.’

Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered in Washington Square Park this Valentine’s Day to participate in a worldwide “Day of Revolutionary Love and Resistance.”

The event, “V-Day Artistic Uprising,” aimed to promote connectivity and understanding through artistic expression. It was held by the women’s rights group, One Billion Rising, whose mission is to end all violence against women and girls worldwide. The group has organized annual “V-Day” events since 2013.

Throughout the night, artists danced, sang, chanted, and recited poetry to speak out against the racism, misogyny, and xenophobia in the current political sphere.

“Well it’s an assembly of people of like mindedness and like heartedness in this very disillusioning time, this really horrible time,” Lindley Hanlon, a professor of film at Brooklyn College, said. “Being together with people who share the same values is really crucial. Sharing these poetic expressions, these rebellious expressions, is profound and, I think, will win.”

Lindley Hanlon attends the V-Day Artistic Uprising protest.

One Billion Rising published a call for solidarity amongst different movements on their website before Valentine’s Day stating, “We declare our love for all who are in harm’s way, including refugees, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQIAGNC people, Black people, the indigenous, the poor and women and girls at risk of violence.”

The concepts of love and unity are what influenced many to make the trip to Washington Square Park. “I just thought it was a good — on this hallmark holiday — reason to protest and gather with people under the umbrella of love and resistance,” local author and director Melanie Hope said.

Protesters gathered to share art, dance, song, and more.

Many of those at the event expressed their concern with President Donald Trump’s administration and where his priorities lie when it comes to the arts. Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary, has been recently criticized for her lack of support for public schools and the arts.

The National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting receive less than one percent of the United States Federal Budget combined.

Studies have shown that a lack of support for the arts can negatively affect academic performance, decision making, cultural awareness, linguistic skills and more. “Art teaches children to express themselves in the deepest most concentrated fashion,” Hanlon said.

Soren Blomquist Eggerling, a film major at New York University (NYU), reflected on how a lack of arts funding affected his childhood. “Growing up I wasn’t involved too much in too many art programs because there was no funding for art programs,” Eggerling said. “I think it’s a stupid move to defund arts programs more than the point that they’re currently at.”

Eggerling believes a lack of funding in the arts has the capability to affect activism and modes of protest. “I think art throughout history has been the best form of protest itself,” Eggerling said. “The arts are really a place where you can take marginalized voices as we saw in movies like Moonlight and Birth of a Nation this year and give them a bigger platform that they might not receive otherwise.”

When asked why the arts should be protected, professor Lindley Hanlon said: “I think that art brings the deepest parts of the human heart and the deepest parts of people to the surface and then they are shared. As well as expressing the most profound horror and dismay and remorse for what’s happening.”