Over the past week I have seen countless people pushing the same message about the women’s march: “Why are they even marching?” or “I just don’t get it.” Even written and video responses from people trying to delegitimize the historic event that took place the day following the inauguration. An event that was possibly the biggest organized protest in American history. I was fortunate enough to attend and witness a movement that reverberated not only across the country – but across the entire globe. You don’t get it? It probably wasn’t meant for you then. As a matter of fact, I’ve found it rather humorous and entertaining when attempting to read various interpretations from people who didn’t attend yet still would try to explain what it was about or the true meaning of the march. Allow me to attempt to shed some light on this for you in the best way that I can.
To begin the day I caught a Metro from Huntington station slightly before 9am and let me tell you – I have never been on a train so jammed full of people in my life. The train contained men and women from all over the country. There was even a couple that planned on getting married that same day who accompanied us. The mood (aside from the fact we were all hot and crammed together) was jubilant at minimum. I seen many people who suggested that those marching were “sore losers” among other things. These ‘sore losers’ had an aura that expressed a higher degree of joy when compared to the ‘winners’ I met attending Trump’s inauguration the previous day, oh the irony. The level of excitement was something I didn’t expect. If I’m being honest, I had no clue what was awaiting me going in to this situation.
The ride was filled with conversations a political junkie could only dream of having with a decent sized and highly engaged audience. The topics varied but for the most part everyone was generally on the same page about policy and the direction our country should be headed in the future. The trip seemed like it took forever – but when we arrived at the L’enfant Plaza station and walked up the stairway to the glass topped opening each step added that much more excitement. Once I was able to walk out and observe the scenery I was astonished at the amount of people that were present. On top of that, this didn’t feel like a protest – it felt like a block party. Every minute that passed it appeared that more and more people continued to flood the streets. Our general vicinity, as well as all surrounding areas, filled up to the point where it was extremely difficult to walk around at all.
I never seen a group of people that were supposed to be on the receiving end of a loss show such resiliency, hope, and happiness. When I first arrived I assumed I was attending a protest. It didn’t take me long to realize that the protest portion of this event was just a footnote as to what was really taking place. The women’s march was a signification of unity. It wasn’t meant for everyone else to know its meaning. It was meant for all of us in attendance to know that no matter what happens in the next four years – we would endure it together. It was the acknowledgement of a coalition composed of like minded individuals. That those of us attending shared a similar ideology and made the decision that we will not be silenced or go down with out a fight. This is what democracy looks like (which was also a popular chant at the event). This is what the first amendment meant when it granted “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” This was history.
Was it anti-Trump? Yes. Was it advocating the rights of women? Yes. Was it pro-civil rights? Absolutely, it was a representation of everything. We touched on the issues I just mentioned and also a wide variety of others but the message remained consistent – we are in this together. I say that to say this – I don’t care if you don’t get it. The odds are if you don’t get it then you probably don’t share the views of those who marched, and that’s okay. However don’t try to delegitimize the valid fears and concerns of these people. One could argue it was your own fears and concerns that enabled Trump’s election. I also want to say that ideology was not a limiting factor in those who attended. There were women I met that were Republicans who, although didn’t entirely share the collective perspective of everyone, still observed the occasion at hand in reverence. Westboro Baptist Church was in attendance as well with what I will describe as ‘less than flattering’ signs aimed to upset and target people who were there. Even still, not one incident occurred that lead to the arrest of a single person.
I’ve seen many videos of people being interviewed who seem to be cherry picked in order to make the march appear ‘dumb’ or ‘pointless.’ This was not the case. I always say to myself “I wish they would have interviewed me,” when I see things like that. The media has a funny way of twisting things to cater to their audience (which I also wrote about in regards to this and the inauguration). The media has laid in to Madonna for her less than subtle comments she made about “blowing up the White House,” which is exactly what the media should do. The issue I took with it was that so many others were saying the crowd cheered and was happy when this took place. Once again – it did not happen. In the video you can hear the tone of the audience change if you’re actually trying to listen. Where I was at, this was met with a collective roar of ‘boos’ and a general sense of hostility. I for one was upset that she would make such a reckless suggestion and risk undermining the credibility of the cause we gathered for.
Finally it came time to march. I was there to write about and observe what took place, which I did. Yet when the march began I set aside my business intentions to march on Washington DC alongside thousands of others to signify intentions of my own. I proudly stand with those who gathered and will never forget the people I met, the concerns I heard, and dedication of those who did whatever it took to be in attendance that day. I was lucky enough to witness this viral photo above take place as I walked back from the National Mall. I saw her standing in the middle of the street holding a white frame around her head posing for pictures. The sight of this gave me a sense of pride in knowing how we will respond in the face of adversity going in to the future. Say what you will about the people on January 21st, but an overwhelming majority of them are no different than you and I.
The overall message was to get everyone unified under the banner of women – something I’d like to think all of us can get behind. I hope – yet sincerely believe that this passion among the people will translate to the voting booth for 2018 and 2020. This was just the beginning. This was simply a message stating that we are here and plan to fight every step of the way. We will resist. We will not allow those in power to take away the rights that were fought vigorously for by those who came before us. We are the ‘refuse to be silent’ majority. We will make sure that our presence is felt at every moment possible. We will not be caught slipping again. And if this makes me a sore loser – demanding social justice, women’s rights, civil rights, fighting for middle class America, protecting the poor and providing a voice for the least fortunate among other things- then that’s a label that I will wear with pride.
Special thanks to Lorraine A. Moore Everitte and Betty Basche for keeping me company on what proved to be a historic day!