Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Women's March on Washington: What an Incredible Day

My mother, sisters, and I by the Hirshhorn Modern Art Museum.
Being on sabbatical, I was able to get to the Women's March on Washington. I got to go with my mother and sisters, which was a great joy. The four of us have marched in Washington before -- mostly for women's reproductive rights -- but it had been a long time.

It's just about impossible to estimate the size of a crowd so large, but it was well over 500,000 people. I saw the figure 680,000 given, which seems closer to me. I really do think it was verging on 1 million. It sure felt that way.

Shepard Fairey art on a poster.
Truly, it was wall-to-wall people. The feeling was one of love and solidarity. I was pleased that there was a nice representation of men in support -- not so many to keep it from feeling like a "women's march", but just the right amount. The ages of participants really ran the spectrum. I was happy to see a good turnout of Millennials. There was some concern before the march that it would be "too white". I can give my impression only... I would say it was disproportionately white for Washington, D.C., but at the same time there was racial diversity. I was happy to see (what seemed to me) more than the usual number of people in wheelchairs at the march and rally.

First we went to the rally and got close enough to the stage to at least have a good view of the screen. (We were standing by the Hirshhorn Modern Art Museum.) After a quick bite for lunch, it was time to join the march down Independence Avenue to the White House. By this point, the crowd was even bigger. It was wall-to-wall people. We were packed like sardines in the street! I was trying to get down to Independence Avenue, but there were blocks keeping us away. We couldn't figure out what was going on. After the fact, we learned that there were too many of us, essentially. The march was far bigger than they had anticipated, so it was effectively stopped. Many people did make their way to the White House, but we didn't get to do it all together as planned.

We spent a lot of time at this spot, unable to move!
I loved the signs and the chants. [I didn't take very many pictures; I was trying to just be in the moment. In addition to the handful of photos posted here (which I did take), I will give links to photo pages below in this post.] Some of the signs were poignant; some were pointed; some were light and fun. I thought it hit a nice balance. Likewise with the chants. There were some chants that I have heard before (e.g., call -- "Tell me what democracy looks like" -- response "This is what democracy looks like"; call -- "When women's/blacks'/immigrants'/Muslims'/etc. rights are under attack, what do we do?" response -- "Stand up, fight back!")... and there were some silly chants that were new to me (e.g., "We need a leader, not a creepy Tweeter!")

This sign just made us laugh.
Before the march, there was some talk about whether the pink pussy hats were a good idea or not. With hindsight, to me at least, it seems obvious that they were a good idea. They show up very well in the aerial photos and are quite striking. It was nice to have a visual for our palpable solidarity.

It was an incredible experience, any way you look at it. One of my colleagues has said that there is nowhere on earth she would rather have been that day, and I feel the same way.

So now what? How do we harness this incredible thing that has happened -- not just the 680,000 (or more) people marching in Washington, D.C., but the incredible millions of Women's Marchers all over the country and world? How do we turn the march into a movement?

Luckily, the Women's March organizers have thought of this, and are going to try to help and move that along too. You can see their "10 Actions in 100 Days Page".

Finally we did make it to the White House, but not all together.
We are not alone.
We are in this together.
And we have each other's backs.


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