This essay, first posted in August, 2008, was revised most recently in December, 2013.
College and university students turn out in large numbers for the annual March for Life in Washington, DC, each January. Just before or after the march, many attend the annual Students for Life of America conference, also in Washington.
Here are photos of campus banners in some recent marches. The first feature three of the oldest universities in the United States. After that, photos appear in alphabetical order by the key name of college or university (for example, Illinois rather than University of Illinois). National groups appear at the end.
Have students from your campus marched with a banner--yet you don't see it here? So sorry! The crowd is huge; the march is fast; and I can't photograph--or even see--every group. I hope to catch yours the next time around. Or if you have a recent and good photo of your group with its banner, please e-mail it to me at meehan20[at]verizon.net along with permission to use the photo on this site. If you know the name of the photographer, please let me know so I can credit that person; if not, I can credit your group.
If you didn't see a banner for your institution because it has no pro-life group, perhaps you can make a banner for next January. Then you can gather other students to go with you to the March for Life or the Walk for Life West Coast. Almost before you know it, you will have started a campus pro-life group.
If your campus does have a pro-life alliance, but the group has no banner, perhaps you could volunteer to make one. If you Google "how to make a cloth banner," you will find useful tips. One guide you'll find, Bob Olsen's "Banner Making 101," deals with banners meant for repeated outdoor use.
It's also a good idea to talk with other students who have painted or sewn outdoor banners and know about "wind holes" and other tricks to keep a banner taut. Or, if you're technically challenged, you might find someone else who can do the job. Perhaps you know someone in a sewing or quilting group whose members are looking for a good project.
In designing your banner, it's wise to use just a few words--perhaps just the name of your campus and your group--and to make bold, clear letters. It's best to have two colors only and to remember that a white background will fade and seem lifeless against a grey sky. (To be safe, assume that the sky will be grey.) If you want a striking banner--and beautiful photos of it--try white letters on a background of blue, green, or red. Such banners are great in any kind of weather.
A group usually marches behind its banner. But for good visuals, you might want to have some of your members march in front of yours. Just be sure they're short enough so that they won't obscure the banner.
A great banner makes a clear statement, boosts the morale of your group, and attracts new members. You can use it both on campus and off--for tabling campaigns, student activities fairs, conferences, demonstrations, and marches.
Hold those banners high, guys! Hold 'em high!
(Photos by Mary Meehan,