Voices Raised in Protest: Women’s Marches, Part 1.1
We asked friends and readers who attended the January 20, 2017 Women’s March on Washington and sister marches around and beyond the US to share their experiences with us. Here is some of what you told us:
DC March: I just looked around and saw a sea of people and thought "we are the majority and we will overcome this..." This was the first time since I was a small girl that I can recall being proud of being an American. I left feeling confident that we would overcome this administration. - White woman, director of marketing, 39
DC March: I felt inspired and it was great to be amongst such a large group. I remember one moment near the clergy people that was great when a Black woman was helping lead songs. I loved also hearing the 10-year-old children leading chants, "TELL ME WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!" - Kim
DC March: Sofia Cruz's speech at the Rally. When she switched into Spanish. It was amazing. Also, as honestly cringe-inducing as her speech was (I started out thinking that no one needed to hear Ashely Judd doing a spoken word piece written by a teenager.) By the end I was totally moved and totally energized. Though even now I'm still a little cringe-y about it. - Meg
St. Paul March: Our congresswoman (first Somali American to be elected in a political office) gave a speech during the rally and I looked over and saw a woman and her daughter, both wearing hijabs. They were watching the speaker as the little girl had a baby doll tucked into her coat. I met eyes with the woman and smiled. A great moment - AFP
DC March: On the Metro, I was listening to "Don't Stop Believin'" and looked all around me to see women in pink hats and inspiring signs. For the first time since the election, I felt hope wash over me. - Louisa
DC March: Finally coming out of Union Station was exhilarating. It was light out, for one. Warmer and dryer than Baltimore. And we were quickly swept into the river of marchers all heading in one direction. I felt intoxicated, and realized it would take extra effort to get my group to pick a different route. We did, but it didn't make a difference. Everywhere we went we met density. The river of people was a constant throughout the day. Sometimes we flowed quickly, but often, when we converged with a flank of people, we moved very, very, very slowly. Once we were an eddy, going the opposite direction than the crowd on Pennsylvania, walking quickly on the sidewalk. There was very little by the way of barricades. I was really happy about the free flowing nature of the crowd, even when it was slow. - Eleanor
Madison, WI March: By the time we made it to the Capitol, the speeches were wrapping up (the march took 2.5 hours!) My daughter and I went into the Capitol, and I realized she had never been there. We walked around, I explained about our government, what all the rooms were for, the history, it was pretty special. We latched onto a tour and got some background on the building. I found out that WI has 7 Supreme Court Justices, 5 of whom are women! The highest percentage in the nation, super proud of that. My daughter loved reading all the signs, we talked about Lady Forward. It was also very special to be there with my mom, 3 generations of my family marching together. My sister and her family were also marching in Boston. - Rebecca Wallendall
NYC March: I saw a preteen boy wearing a pink pussy hat holding a sign that quoted Benjamin Franklin: "Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn," and I felt like the future, if we have one, will end up in good hands. - Annie S.
DC March: I saw an elderly woman with a cane trying to get past us. Our group was standing on a curb and she was trying to get to where we were from the street. I reached out and grabbed her hand and helped her get past and she turned around and said: "Your mommy raised you right!" I noticed her because she actually reminded me of my mom, how my mom navigates a space (getting out of a car, up on to a curb, etc) and it was just a natural reaction to help her. Later, in the car our whole group talked to my mom and told her about the day and she said she was proud of all of us. I think in that moment, I knew that I was there because my mom did raise me to believe in equality and do what I can for social justice. I'm tearing up just thinking about it! - Tina
DC March: Gloria Steinem on stage. We're standing next to the Hirshorn. 50 or so women piled up on a parked dump truck chanting Black Lives Matter and "We want a leader not a creepy tweeter." It was so packed. I touched everyone around me. They touched me. We were smiling, just smiling - Nancy Pearson
Madison March: Waiting for the march to start, I was struck by everyone else as they arrived, their signs, their conversations, and their sense of camaraderie. - @M_Bumatay
Who you are; why you went
DC March: I'm a 47 year-old white married lesbian woman. My wife and I have a 4 month old baby. I attended for so many reasons-- for “compassion for kindred spirits in a common quest” (Sagan), for my daughter and all the girls in the world, for science and equality, for love, yes mainly love. I'm tired of feeling politically powerless, which is a really dishonest thing to say since I've never been powerless; it would be more honest to say I've never really done anything about that feeling. - Nancy Pearson
DC March: I'm Kim. I'm a cis-, hetero, single Black woman, 40, educator, and attended b/c Trump is some bullshit. I'm also raising a transkid who identifies as male so all the stuff brewing has me ready for mama grizzly action.
DC March: I am a 17 year old white woman who is a high school senior. My family is in the lower middle class. I attended the March to demonstrate my desire for women's rights, environmental protection, and many other causes that Donald Trump's administration is against. I tried to meet up with several friends, but my phone lost service and I ended up walking alone. I was taken in by a group of women from Florida for a few hours, and eventually my friend Ben found me on the National Mall by some crazy coincidence. - Louisa
Madison, WI March: I decided to attend immediately after the election when I heard the marches were being planned. I am a strong Hillary supporter and feel women were abused and neglected during this election. - Rebecca Wallendall
NYC March: white, female, 45, upper middle class, writer, mother - Annie S.
St. Paul, MN March: White woman, early 30s, at home parent, went to the march with 3 girlfriends - carpooled. Made signs beforehand, processed before, during and after together. - AFP
DC March: White, middle class, woman. She, her, hers. Small business owner. I'm in a phase of "all in" with a response to the election: more engaged action as a protester, a volunteer, a voice.
DC March: Initially I signed up (very early) because I needed some kind of outlet to express my rage. As time went on and the march organizing became more orchestrated my motivation was to be part of a movement--to help create a movement among women. - White woman, director of marketing, 39
Madison, WI March: I'm half Filipino and half European, female, 34, college professor and I participated in support of women's rights and civil rights in general. Twitter handle: @M_Bumatay
DC March: White, female, 40, working/middle class, actor. Decided to attend because Trump's misogyny and objectification of women deeply offends me and compels me to fight against these attitudes. - Meg
How you prepared, how you got there
DC March: I was so eager to get to the march and protest that I ran into a metal fence and bruised my leg. There's a cut and significantly green bruise, but my excitement was worth it.- Louisa
DC March: Watching the debates----as he stalked around behind HRC, called her names, denigrated her life of service and her intellect---it recalled in me every bad boss, sleazy director, abusive boyfriend, negging pick-up artist that I've even encountered. And I was on fire with fear and contempt and disbelief. In the week following the election I decided that the most good I could do would be to amplify/multiply my activism. So I rented a 15 passenger van and invited people who I knew probably couldn't afford to go on their own, or wouldn't be able to coordinate it. I planned and executed the entire trip, including (donated) free housing and food, so that all they had to do was show up. So I was able to multiply my single body by 15 and contribute that many more voices to the March! - Meg
Madison, WI March: I was planning to drive, but found out last minute about a bus from my community, so we rode with friends. I didn't plan to meet up with anyone, but I knew so many of my friends would be there. We didn't make any signs, I really just wanted to be there, to be counted. I had no plans other than showing up. A friend on the bus gave my daughter a sign, which she proudly showed all day long. We encountered a few friends waiting in the crowd, but mostly we read the signs and enjoyed the atmosphere. - Rebecca Wallendall, white, college educated mother, 40.
DC March: We got to the march site and I wondered how big the march would be, how disruptive and confrontational would the trump supporters be? Facing the capitol, I saw a good sized crowd and I was hopeful, then I looked to my left, and saw a huge swarm of people coming down the street toward the mall, and I got a lump in my throat at the realization of how epic this march would be. - White woman, director of marketing, 39
DC March: I knit a bunch of pussy hats for folks to wear (and made an attempt to knit in public for folks to see and ask questions, even though they didn't). I also prepared by making my house ready for guests attending the march: a high school friend and his wife; and guests from: Providence, RI; Boston, MA; and Syracuse, NY. Four of us took a bus sponsored by my congressman and two of us took the metro. We tried to meet my husband who was working the A/V for the March (a local company hired by the March) but we couldn't get to him through the people. Before the March, we gathered at the Silver Spring Civic Center where apparently 2000 people were meeting to take 16 buses. We listened to our local leaders: our congressman and some state senators. Apparently this was the largest gathering at the Silver Spring Civic Center to date. One speaker addressed the crowd with her two kids by her side. The diversity of the speakers was also clear-- they made an effort to make sure that as many groups as possible were represented. - Tina
DC March: i went alone. I left my child with friends. Didn't want there to be an unsafe situation or to get separated from my kid. And he's kinda strong boy identity so might have something to say 'why do i have to be here with all these girls? i'm a boy!' and then going to the bathroom and all that or being tired so i went alone. plus i wanted to do what i felt like doing w/o concern for what friends' needs might be. - Kim
St. Paul March: I honked at the crowds of pink hats at each bus stop along the way and everyone would cheer. Electricity and solidarity were palpable. Friend made a sign she downloaded from women's march mn website under resources section. Free to download, they ask that you not sell it. Got lots of compliments. Same artist that did Obamas face "We the People". Mine had woman in hijab of the American flag. - AFP [Editor's Note: The Artist is Shepard Fairey]
Madison, WI March: I decided to wear a pink hat I knit for myself and my husband and I drove to Madison, WI to meet up with a chartered bus of people from Beloit, WI that included Beloit College faculty, staff, students, and residents of the city of Beloit. - @M_Bumatay
DC March: It was so cool! A whole bunch of girlfriends from college, who I hadn't seen in 23 years, all came together to march as a group. And they brought their 11-14 year old daughters, whose energy and enthusiasm carried us through the long day. I traveled from Baltimore. Financially insignificant, but the physical challenge was intense. We planned to catch the first MARC train at 7:30, but it didn't stop for us since it was overfull. We waited three hours in total. I then realized there were people who wanted to get to the march whose transportation failed them. We saw several groups leave the line. I bought really warm winter boots and silk long underwear that I didn't need. I bought a clear back pack that I didn't need. I made a poster that became very helpful for keeping the group together.
DC March: I went to an UNHAPPY HOUR at a neighbors on Friday PM and we drank a beer and fashioned clear purses out of ziplock bags and masking tape and cried a bit and laughed. I kissed my 4 month-old and my wife at 6AM the next day. I drove to a friends where we donned pins and grabbed posters and some trail mix. Then, crazy as it sounds, we drove straight downtown and parked right next to the mall. No traffic. Plenty of parking. The angels of the march were guiding us - Nancy Pearson
NYC March: I dressed in layers, had hand warmers, water, an empty bladder. my daughter is 8 and was interested in going but i thought it best not to take her so my husband stayed home with her and i went alone. I met a group of women from a Red town in Long Island NY who were very surprised by how many people from their town traveled to the march with them. - Annie S.
What you wore
DC March: I wore running shoes, jeans, a thermal long sleeved shirt under a tshirt that says: "the future is female" and a fleece jacket that I was able to tie around my waist. I also wore a pussy hat I made with yarn made by a woman in Portland, OR-- the colorway is called: "v is for vagenda."- Tina
DC March: I wore thick leggings, a t shirt, sweatshirt over it, and tennis shoes. I did bring a sign. Made from foam core board I got at staples. I stenciled the letters with magic marker and that was it. - White woman, director of marketing, 39
Madison, WI March: Since my young daughter was with me, my main focus was dressing for the weather. We didn't make signs or wear pink hats, but we sure enjoyed seeing everyone else decked out! - Rebecca Wallendall
NYC March: I wore my regular clothes and I made a sign that said "Not Today Satan". - Annie S.
DC March: A van mate crocheted hats for us, though mine was one of the early ones and the ears ran long, so I was in more of a pink bunny hat, haha. I hosted a sign making workshop at my apartment the week before the March and provided supplies, snacks and lists of suggested signs culled from the internet. Mine was double-sided and said on one side, "THIS IS NOT NORMAL" and on the reverse, "IF YOU DON'T CONDEMN YOU CONDONE." - Meg
Madison, WI March: I wore regular clothes and a pink hat I knit for myself. - @M_Bumatay
DC March: Jeans, Doc Martens, and two jackets and not a pussy hat alas. [I a]lmost [hit] (accidentally) a black woman with my poster that said . . . BLACK WOMEN MATTER, white painted letters on black foam core. The other side said SAY HER NAME.
DC March: I wore very warm clothes (bring clothes- jeans and fleece and a coat) decked out with pins that said, Family Equality and GOP doesn't mean Grab Our Pussies and so on. I carried several posters-- The Hear Our Voice poster and the beautiful prints designed by Shepard Fairey who stenciled the red, blue and beige poster of President Obama with the word “Hope.” The posters have beautiful faces of diverse women under " We The People." I'm framing mine. - Nancy Pearson
DC March: jeans, a black t-shirt that reads: "I am my ancestors wildest dream!" i didn't bring a sign, but got 2 NOW signs from someone "end voter suppression" and "intersectional feminism." I also wore a DC STATEHOOD button that was also Women's March 2017 on it. My kid made a sign. He's still learning to read. It read "Dump Trump." We made it at a friend's party. - Kim
DC March: I wore a blue Students for Hillary shirt from my work on her campaign, and I held a homemade sign that said "I am woman, hear me roar." - Louisa
This post will be continued Thursday in Part 1.2
Editors’ note: All respondents were identified according to their wishes. Responses were lightly edited for obvious typographical errors. If you responded and don’t see your words here, STAY TUNED! We’ll be running more responses over the next couple weeks. Want to tell us your story? You can still take our survey!
Main photo taken by Eleanor In front of the National Museum of African American History