On 22 April 2017, just 3 months after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, more than 1 million demonstrators around the world took to the streets for an unprecedented event: the March for Science. The event, designed to demonstrate public support for science, was a “lightning in a bottle moment” inspired largely by the antiscience stances taken by the fledgling Trump administration, says Lucky Tran, one of many volunteers with research backgrounds who helped transform the idea, initially floated by a few people on social media, into a high-profile happening complete with sometimes nerdy signs that became internet sensations.
Even before the march ended, however, many organizers, participants, and onlookers wondered: Could the March for Science—which became a nonprofit organization with about 1 million social media followers—translate its early success into sustained influence?
Now, as Trump runs for reelection, the answer is becoming clearer. Although the March for Science has not replicated its initial splash—a 2018 march drew far fewer participants—and has sometimes struggled to define concrete goals, observers say the effort continues to resonate, albeit in ways that can be hard to measure.