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The Movement That Crossed the Country: Our Stories

 

Washington D.C.: ETHICS SCHMETHICS,” “FAKE TAN, FAKE MAN.” And my personal favorite; “I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit” from an elderly woman. These are just a few signs I saw at the Women’s March on Washington.

Standing on Independence Street,  you didn’t need to ask to know everyone there was feeling the same emotions: courage, indignation, and strength. In a country where red states overpower the blue ones, this was a place to celebrate the common sentiment that women nationwide were feeling. When longtime feminist activist Gloria Steinem reflected upon our nation’s history at the rally, not a word was spoken in the crowd. When filmmaker Michael Moore called the people to action, the excitement level rose as people hollered and applauded. When singer/songwriter Janelle Monae commanded to “SAY THEIR NAME” with the families of black victims killed by police, indignance grew.

Everyone I met was kind, empathetic, and passionate. What would have normally been a flight filled with tired businessmen and screaming babies, was instead an uplifting start to what would become the best trip of my life—80 percent of the flight being women and most of the men traveling were headed to the rally as well. The metro was packed with activists ages ranging from age three to 93. The march itself was flooded with women sporting pink “pussy” hats and brandishing signs for hours on end, despite the close proximity in which we stood.

While the exact number people who attended the march is unknown, estimates reached one million. As comedian Aziz Ansari pointed out on Saturday Night Live following the event, presidents don’t change history, groups of angry people do. ♦ 

Oakland: When I was four, I went to a protest against the Iraq War with my mother. There is a picture of me, standing by a sign that says “No Killing in my Name,” on my mother’s fridge. I don’t think that it’s our sign, but I like the sentiment anyway. I reflected on this when I couldn’t walk ten feet without seeing a  young child at the Oakland Women’s March. Part of the reason that children were so well represented was undoubtedly the early start at 10 a.m., but I think this was more a result of the fact that this march was focused on the future.

      I met a woman who’s been marching since  the 60s and told me about marching with her children. She was going to meet her grandchildren after the march. I saw girl scouts chanting, and babies on their parents’ backs. Seeing the youth turnout made me hopeful.  It means that there will be an entire generation that is political and want to make this country better, people who will bring their own kids to marches. While I know that the Bay Area  is already too over political for this to really signal something new, the fact that marches occurred all over the country, and the entire world, indicates that apathy won’t always rule the day.

 

San Francisco: I boarded the ferry with six other friends, all dressed in pink and adorned with signs. I could feel the energy while making my way onto the ferry. The never ending crowd of people boarding was a sea of pink: pink hats, pink clothes, pink everything. After walking to the civic center from the Ferry Building, the sea of pink soon turned into a sea of umbrellas. Already soaking wet, we began our march. Peaceful chants filled the air: “We won’t go away, welcome to your first day” and “Hey Ho, Trump’s got to go.” The rain brought a sense of misery but with it, also one of unity, yes we were cold, but the weather wouldn’t stop this crowd.

With frozen feet and hands, we ran with all the energy we had. I took down my umbrella to soak in the rain and dance in the victory of completing the march.

 

Oakland: All day I was surrounded by people that were so happy and excited to be a part of a movement. Despite the name being “Women’s March,” there was a near equal amount of men. To see this many people come together for a cause was astonishing. People of all ages, genders, and races were fighting for our nation. When the march started, it was slow, mostly even standstill. Occasionally there would be an outburst of cheering and applause from the mass of happy people.  It was so powerful to be involved in something so big. It was peaceful, cheerful, and most of all, it was strong. When I made the decision to attend the march, I didn’t think that there would be such a positive vibe, but that was the only vibe I got.

Near the end of the march, I saw a black female police officer standing on the edge of the street. I approached her and asked her what she thought of the march. She said that if she didn’t have work, she most definitely would have been marching with everyone. She was the only police officer who allowed me to talk to her. The six other officers I asked, most of which were white males, said that they “weren’t allowed to.” Maybe that speaks to who is really being affected by this new president. ♦

 

San Francisco: Walking through the San Francisco streets as one person in a crowd of thousands, all clad in “pussy” hats and sporting witty signs, you can feel yourself being written into history textbooks. Participating in the San Francisco Women’s March was not only a cathartic experience for those who have been deeply troubled by the past few weeks, but also an empowering symbol of hope to people who needed it, including me. It was a sign that despite the hateful rhetoric that has permeated our White House, the citizens in our country have the ability to display their defiance, and nations around the world support our cause. The fact that this was not a singular protest or march, but rather the beginning of four years that the American people plan to fight for their rights and the rights of their fellow citizens, was immensely reassuring. Even now as Trump’s Muslim Ban is protested adamantly around the country, it is clear that “we the people” will not rest on our laurels, we will continue to fight, and we will not give up.




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