Why We Marched …the Women’s March

The day of the 21st of January in the year 2017 will forever be marked as the Women’s March on the day after the inauguration of a misogynist, race-baiting, opportunist man who bragged about being able to sexually assault women … a man who got 3 million less votes than his opponent. The Women’s March had more attendees than the inauguration and it ended up bringing together more than 500,000 in Washington, DC and an estimated 4 million worldwide. Not to mention all the sites in the US because every state had a march somewhere in the state. But a global effort included in London, Paris, Sydney, Berlin, Antarctica, Iraq, Johannesburg. Two professors put together a spreadsheet that now estimates nearly 1 in every 100 American participated in a March somewhere. The number in DC was two or three times that of the inauguration. Some places broke records for marches of all time.

Even after a couple days, the exhilaration of being with the other marchers is still with me. It was truly phenomenal. It’s almost hard to describe. So, the blog this week features several women who marched in several different cities around the country. They’re talking about how it felt, why they marched and what it meant to them. I am letting their voices speak. I will give my own reflections in another blog later this week.

Thia Boggs marched in Oakland, CA: I prayed for good weather and the rainbow came. I helped a small Asian woman onto the train to get to the March and she turned our to be a McNair Scholar I had gone to Berkeley with over 20 years ago. I hadn’t seen her since we graduated. There were so many beautiful people at peace with each other. There were 85,000 marchers and zero arrests. My son, Zendo, experienced his first “We the People” display. I hope it stays with him. What I think about now is, I want more.

Camille Lamothe Moore marched in Washington, DC: It’s still difficult for me to believe that a segment of the US population is willing to overlook the lying misogynistic, racist, narcissistic, delusional bully that DJT was exposed as, just to vote against an overqualified, supremely intelligent, experienced, Democratic woman. We were and still are all heartbroken. The numbers still don’t add up for me (that’s another conversation), but in going through the stages of grief that we all went through, helplessness was the overwhelming feeling. Participating in the Women’s March on Washington was one way I could physically show my outrage, my dissent, my unwillingness to bend, so I could do my part to overcome the helplessness. I will not let the intentions of a small greedy group of people discourage me from doing what little I can to mend this country and to mend my own heart. It was wonderful banding with all types of people, seeing our like-mindedness, and feeling that love truly does trump hate. As #stillmypresident Obama said, we’ll be OK, but in the meantime, this is #whywemarch.

Gabby Reissland in Columbus, OH (she knitted more than 4 dozen pussyhats that were mailed and worn by marchers in Washington, DC, Raleigh, Orlando, Philadelphia, New York, and Columbus): I am proud of the women and men who marched in whatever city they were in. I could not be in every location but I contributed by providing pink pussyhats to people across the East Coast. This cause is a worthy cause because it is about the basic rights all women, men and children should be afforded. We need to stand up for those who can’t. And we need to do it until everyone is respected, cared for and loved by this Trump administration.

Anastasia Gray traveled from Philadelphia to march in Washington, DC: Wow what a journey! From the bus ride to the return trip home it was electrifying. Women, men and children as far as you could see were sharing stories and loving each other.  My heart was pounding and chills were felt with each chant from the crowd. The energy was electric, the tears real, the hugs frequent, and the power was so evident. Woman power, black, white, and all different hues were there in solidarity to fight for our rights.  The faces had strength and determination, for them it is only the beginning of advocacy, and justice for all. Black Lives Matter, voter’s suppression, women’s right … every issue that involves our family, our children, and our society were on display. I will never forget this experience for the rest of my life.

Angi Porter marched in Minneapolis/St. Paul: We all had different viewpoints, paradigms, approaches, and allegiances, but there was something remarkable and subtly encouraging about being in a crowd of people who all agreed about one thing.  It was nice to see that crowd get together, a world gathering against the new American regime. It was a moment when we all needed to do something, even if it was as simple as voicing our dissent.  In that effort, folks set their differences aside and an awe inspiring storm gathered.  I’m really glad that I didn’t sit on my couch with my arms crossed that day. Instead, I was part of that storm. Perhaps it’s a storm in a larger climate change. At the very least, it was a disruption and an indelible mark on the Trump story.  Either way, I’m happy to be able to say I was there.

Danita Ferguson Terry marched in Washington, DC: As I stood in the sea of marchers on Saturday I was awed by the shear numbers of women of all ages, ethnicities, cultures, colors and religions that had come together in this moment. Many of us, YES, are angry about the outcome of the election (and many of us have the right to be; we carried out our civic duty and voted. Some of us even donated time and/or money to campaigns reflective of our beliefs), but most of us are concerned about the future of our country and how our way of life could change. I spoke with a woman from Alaska, another from Michigan and countless others from various cities across the country. The fear that results from having an individual who clearly does not have the aptitude, diplomacy, knowledge of government and/or the Constitution running the country is real! And that reality becomes threatening when the protections for women, our rights, and, our hopes for progress in this never-ending fight for gender equality are dealt mighty blows. That’s why I marched. Not just because I am angry. I marched because I felt like that was something I could do to become energized to take action and encouraged that my actions could make a difference.

Marguerite Harper Scott marched in Raleigh, NC: Saturday’s Women’s March was not just a kumbaya moment, but a serious call to action. We were asked to turn to our neighbor and state what we were going to do post march. For some, probably nothing. I will continue to email, phone, and visit the members of the North Carolina General Assembly that affect retired teachers (that’s mainly women who depend on a pension with little or no COLA increases and health insurance that continues to rise). The political arena needs your help. Electing women is a priority.

Leilee Weyerhaeuser marched in San Francisco, CA: In November, on the night of the election, a woman in California searched for something she could plan that would actively counteract the destructive dynamics of the incoming President-elect. She envisioned people crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in a unified stand against bullying. On the morning of the inauguration, I walked towards the March she had planned. I looked up from a distance as I walked towards the bridge and saw a line of bumps. Then closer I could see it was the thousands of people lining up across the full span of the Golden Gate Bridge. We joined hands in unity and commitment to protect the rights of all people in our country, wearing purple to signify opposition to bullying. This was a powerful visual image of forming a human bridge across one of nature’s most dramatic chasms. This demonstration seemed different in tone than many of Women’s Marches that happened the next day. This “Hands Across the Bridge,” #bridgetogethergg, was focused mainly on solidarity with people whose rights are in jeopardy. Many people in the crowd talked with each other about standing up for understanding and love among all people, and the need to counter the words of hate that have streamed out of Trump group. Instead, this was a quiet, peaceful show of solidarity made manifest in 2,700 people linked by a common intention and commitment to equality.

Donna Wilson Peters marched in Kansas City: It was important to me to connect with like-minded individuals to express my opinions on issues of importance and to send a message to the new Trump Administration that we will not be silenced … we will stand strong and fight for those matters that impact us. And, it was more than a Women’s March … it was a phenomenal gathering of people worldwide .. a beautiful showing of humanity. Going forward, we must harness the energy from this historic movement and work to get more citizens engaged in the election process, and get more progressive women elected to local, state and federal offices.

Lizette Rouson Benefield marched in Washington, DC: We made a powerful statement that will forever move us forward.  It is up to us to keep the younger generation hopeful. I heard too many say that they did not understand how the march would do anything and could not understand the color of the hats. Some felt the hats should have represented the colors of people. From that day on, it shows what unity is all about. No matter how hard it gets, we cannot give up. We shall keep chasing, running and accomplishing. This day extended all women’s hopes and dreams.

These women marched for many reasons, some of the reasons overlap but some of the reasons are different. Their experiences were different but there was a common thread of unity, of oneness, of wanting to achieve fairness for all who have the privilege of life. Some people think for instance that to be pro-choice is to not be pro-life. Yet, on a day in January in 2017, women and men and children of all hues and background said we are both pro-choice and pro-life. We believe that when we come through the birth canal and land on the side of life in the land of the United States of America, we deserve the best this country can provide. And no one man, even after elected and inaugurated, will deprive us of the rights we know to be ours. Not on our watch. Not this time. And, we’re not done yet.

(post script: Clarence James designed some special posters for the Womens March in Raleigh and a limited number of prints and t-shirts will be available with these designs for the next 30 days. Send inquiries to 1984pvmt@gmail.com)

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