Reflections on the Women’s March a Year Later
I had planned on flying to Washington, D.C. to witness Hillary Clinton’s Inauguration. So when I heard a Women’s March was being planned for the day following Trump’s Inauguration, it was an easy choice to go. My close friend Jillian and I made plans to meet in Washington (and stayed in the hotel room her parents had reserved for Hillary’s Inauguration). It was my birthday weekend, and it felt like the right thing to be doing at a time when the world seemed to have taken a quite unexpected turn.
As I boarded my plane in San Francisco, I noticed nearly every single passenger was a woman (many wearing the pink pussy hats that had become an impromptu symbol of the march). I did a double-take when I noticed that even Virgin Airlines had written on the screen behind the gate “Good Luck at the Women’s March.”
Our hotel room overlooked the White House, and it was surreal to see it, knowing that Donald Trump was spending his first night there as President. The White House was lit in the night sky, and, though I’d long been a fervent student of American government (it was even my college major), for the first time it made my heart hurt to look at it.
The next morning, Jillian and I walked to the location of the March. We had heard they were expecting a lot of people at the March, but no one knew how many people would be there. As we got closer to the location, it became more and more clear that it was an unbelievably huge crowd. It was a bigger crowd than I had ever been a part of, and my heart surged as I saw how many people there were from every walk of life, ever color, and, judging by the signs and placards they were carrying, with a zillion different issues on their minds. There were mostly women, of course, but I was impressed by the numbers of men and children who were also marching.
But the thing that impressed me the most was the mood of the crowd— it was upbeat and resolute and joyful. And incredibly peaceful. Despite there being many hundreds of thousands of people there crowded into a relatively small space (estimates range from 800,000 to 1.2 million— a park ranger on that day estimated the crowd for us at 1.2 million), I didn’t notice one instance of violence, or pushing, or even impatience. This despite the fact that there was barely room to move while we listened to the speakers who the March had organized— a group that was more diverse in every way than I could have imagined ahead of time. And despite the fact that, when it came time to March, an impromptu plan had to be devised because marchers filled the entire march route before we’d moved an inch!
In many ways we went to Washington to march because of the fear of what the future held. But you never would have guessed that from the crowd that day. Instead, the feeling I felt as I saw the enormous crowd and talked to people from around the country gathered there was that of hope, and togetherness, and principled resolve. Being part of that crowd that day made me feel that, if we kept working together, we would be okay.
The crowd was so big that I couldn’t get any internet access, which was just as well, because I wanted to soak in everything that was happening— the speakers, the marchers, the awesomely creative signs people had made.
After a long day powered on joy and peaceful protest, Jillian and I returned to our hotel room. Only then did we discover that millions of people around the globe had joined in Women’s Marches of their own. That realization brought tears to my eyes.
The energy of that day carried me for quite a long time— it’s still carrying me in many ways. Seeing what a group of committed, peaceful, caring citizens are capable of was life-affirming and caused me to feel so much joy and hope in our country, in our world, and in what we are capable of doing when we work together.
I’ll never forget that day, as long as I live.
* There are Women’s Marches planned across the country for the Anniversary of the Women’s March this Sunday, January 21, 2018. Find out more about it at: https://www.womensmarch.com