Marching into History

“Because this, this, is the other side of the downside. This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life. It is wide in age. It is deep in diversity. And remember the constitution does not begin with ‘I, the president.’ It begins with “We, the people.” —Gloria Steinem, Women’s March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Whenever possible, I try to avoid becoming too political on this blog. I have my political beliefs, but I have much more to say and to share here than just politics. Plus, I don’t want to turn readers off. That said, I had a huge experience last weekend, and it’s too big not to share in this space.

One week ago today, I traveled to Washington, D.C, to march with hundreds of thousands of other people as part of the Women’s March on Washington. While it was technically a protest march, I never saw or felt any anger or opposition or fear. Love, hope, and kindness abounded. If all protest marches are this positive, sign me up!

I am using this post to share my personal experience through photos and videos, and I also want it to be a place that provides links to other commentary that I find helpful as we all decide what this march meant and where we go from here. Finally, toward the end, I include a link to next steps. The Women’s March was just the beginning. We have to keep making our voices heard, and if you feel the same way, please join me!

My Experience

The Women’s March on Washington was truly amazing—a huge expression of love and life. We cheered for our cause, we cheered for each other, and we even cheered for Metro as we boarded to ride home. So many people, so much kindness and energy, and so many creative signs! When I finished marching, I was amazed to learn how many, many people joined in marches around the country (and the world!).

My mother says everyone should attend a protest march at least once in their life, and I think she’s right. Here are just a few of my photos from the event.

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I also took three videos that give a sense of the march. These video links will open in a new window when you click them:

  • Video 1: This isn’t even the official march yet. It’s just a video of people heading for the march. Amazing!
  • Video 2: Let the marching begin! And we’ve even got a drum beat to march to! The building here is the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
  • Video 3: With very tired feet, we eventually made it back to the Shady Grove metro stop to board buses and head for our home in Pennsylvania. Despite the exhaustion, the crowd still had lots of spirit, and the enthusiasm and cheering just kept coming! “This is what democracy looks like!”

Some of What I Have Heard and Seen Since Saturday

I’m awed and humbled by the eloquent words rising up around me from my friends, family, and people I don’t even know. I share just some of those amazing words here. If you know of other links and words of wisdom that I should share here, please leave a comment.

  • As mentioned in the slideshow, part of my role on Saturday was to act as chaperone for high-school students who wanted to take an active role in the political process and their future. They amaze and inspire me, and some of those students were quoted in a piece called “Teens Tell Us Why They Marched” on the New York Magazine website. Check it out
  • My friend and fellow writer/blogger Lara wrote a beautiful piece for the Huffington Post called “I Hope You Never Know” One of my favorite lines: “If you don’t believe in the fight to make the world a better place, I will fight on your behalf, because I know it is necessary, not just for women, or people of color, or the disabled, but for all of us.” Read the full piece
  • My sister and I marched together on Saturday, and she shared this comment on Facebook and then linked to a wonderful song that is becoming the unofficial anthem for the march. Rachel and I are both graduates of one of the Seven Sisters colleges, and that education among strong women has helped shape us into who we are today. Rachel wrote: “As I reflect on… the Women’s March on Washington, I am overcome by the beauty and strength of so many people coming together to fight for equality-worldwide. We made a statement. We made history. And we will NOT stay quiet! Participating in the Women’s March on Washington in D.C. reminded me about the kind of positive energy and change that comes from women (and men, and gender non-conforming people) working together toward a common goal. I hope my high school students, with whom I did march, better understand the power of their voices and the strength that comes from love and unity, not hate and division. We are #strongertogether.” Watch the unofficial march anthem
  • A friend of mine traveled to D.C. from West Virginia (our home state), and although I did not find her in the crowd, I greatly appreciated reading her blog post entitled “I Marched Because My Vote Didn’t Count” following the event. A quote from that post: “But even though I knew that many people oppose Trump’s rhetoric and policies, it was still pretty awesome to see them all in one place, with my own eyes.” Check out the full post
  • Although the march was called the Women’s March, the issues affect us all. I found a TED Talk several months ago that speaks to this idea. It specifically addresses issues of sexual and physical violence, but I think the way the speaker (Jackson Katz, Ph.D.) frames the conversation is incredibly important across many different issues and conversations.  I absolutely love it, and I think it’s worth sharing here. A beginning few lines from the 20-minute talk: “That whole range of issues that I’ll refer to in shorthand as ‘gender violence issues,’ they’ve been seen as women’s issues that some good men help out with, but I have a problem with that frame and I don’t accept it. I don’t see these as women’s issues that some good men help out with.” To find out how Katz frames these issues, watch the full talk.

Where do we go from here?

In this space, I’ve included just a small snippet of the amazing words, images, and feelings coming from the weekend’s global event. It’s clear that we’ve got work to do, and I’m starting with this call to action from the official Women’s March website. We are stronger together. We are hopeful, and we can’t and won’t let the momentum die. Please join me.

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