How lucky I was to have been there on January 21 at this historic, record-setting event, an event that brought hundreds of thousands of people to our capital and inspired millions on every continent to march in solidarity. It was so over-crowded that I can honestly say I STOOD for women’s rights rather than MARCHED for women’s rights (!) and it was truly extraordinary in many, many ways. This is what delighted me most:
The pussyhats. Lots and lots of pussyhats!! Each one individually crafted and then shared with friends, family, and strangers. Just think about all those people making all those stitches for all those hours …and all for the same cause. What a wonderful tribute to the grass-roots basis of the movement. It was a sea of pink with variations on styles, colors, decorations. Those ears popping up everywhere.
The signs and posters. Almost every one was different, so many made by hand, Creative, funny, passionate. They covered wide-ranging issues from reproductive freedom to nuclear disarmament to honesty and accountability in government.
You can find many links showing their brilliance, humor, and diversity. People left them at the White House gates and in their metro stations; pop-up street art as a testament to their passions.
People from everywhere. I met people who drove in, bused in, flew in. People who spent long hours in transit. People from all over our country who were able to travel and felt it was important to be where the laws are made and unmade, to be where the new unpopular president was starting his tenure.
So many young women and girls. Fresh young faces, tattooed, pierced, or not. With blue or purple hair, or not. College-age, teen-age, and little ones with their moms carrying “Girl Power” signs. I loved seeing them all. They are so very important because they are our future.
And the men. Lots of men were there, men of all ages and colors, men in pussyhats. They were there to support the people they love: their wives, partners, husbands, daughters, sisters, friends. They were there because they care about the same things we do.
The amazing positive vibe. No one was prepared for the enormity of this event. We encountered all the typical difficulties you get when a mass of humanity is brought together. Despite the inconveniences and frustration, people were peaceful, polite, kind, helpful to one another. I never saw anger or the threat of violence. The overarching vibe was joy and acceptance.
The police and security teams. These wonderful people were also polite, kind, and helpful, never rude or harsh, showing their respect and support in many ways. Some wore pussyhats, some were cheering from their high posts, some were standing on top of their squad cars jiving and bopping. I saw one policeman taking pictures for people from his vantage point and handing back their cameras.
Empowerment. Not only is there “safety in numbers” but there is also solidarity, support, encouragement, optimism, and hope. This march has convinced me that the power IS in the people. I know I was not alone, that others also left with their hearts lifted. I believe this spirit (and the pussyhat) will live on past this march.
Meeting my stepfamily. My stepchildren are scattered around the US, we are loosely in touch, and I don’t see them very often. I knew the ones living in MD were going to the march; I didn’t know who else would join them and I NEVER expected we would cross paths. As my small group of friends was starting our crawl toward the White House, my stepdaughter from TN recognized me in the crowd, It was a surreal moment of outrageous serendipity that crowned the magic of the whole day.
There was just one sadness for me; it was very personal. After a 25-hour ordeal to get there, participate, and return home — my heart filled with pride and exhilaration — I could not share this with my mother. She she died at the end of December and I could not tell her how magnificent it felt to march (or stand) for women’s rights with half a million like-minded people.