About 600,000 people came from all over the country to Washington D.C. to march in support of women’s rights and other causes on Jan. 21, and I was one of them.
“I have friends who are immigrants, friends who are LGBT and friends who are survivors of rape and sexual assault, and I am going to do everything I can to make sure the future is as safe for them as I can make it… For me personally, I feel like [the Women’s March] has given me something to look forward to since the election and something that I don’t feel so alone in. I think there was a lot of feeling like people telling you to move on, or people telling you [the election] is not that big of a deal, but being here today, it’s clear that it is a big deal,” Cara Egan said.
Egan traveled to Washington D.C. with me on a bus full of 54 other women and men. They were teachers who marched to defend the public school system. They were transgender women and homosexual women fighting for civil rights. They were special education teachers and moms of children with special needs who believe their children deserve equal treatment and should not be mocked. They were African-American and Latina women marching to be seen as equal. They were women fighting for all women, and our right to exist without prejudice, and they were strong, nasty women (and a few bad hombres).
My mom and I made the promise to ourselves on the morning after the election that if there came an opportunity to stick ourselves on a crowded bus for 30 hours and fight for our rights, we’d be there.
I marched alongside my mom to empower myself and ignite hope in other women.
We felt the strength of nearly 5 million people around the world in over 600 sister marches across the U.S. and on all seven continents. I wanted the Women’s March to represent the power of women and our sisterhood, as we begin to inspire each other.
For example, this march started when one woman, Rebecca Shook, inspired millions of women worldwide to stand up and be heard.
Numbers were underestimated, and more people than expected showed up, so our bus didn’t have a space to park among 100s of other buses. We were told to jump out at the curb. We then walked over two miles to the rally, starting as a group of three people. Block by block, we were joined by more and more people, until we were among thousands of people walking toward Independence Avenue. The crowds around us grew until thousands of people became tens of thousands of people, and tens of thousands of people became hundreds of thousands. A sea of pink hats engulfed us, and poured in around us in every direction.
The crowd started at First Street, but the organizers had barricaded the first six blocks of entrances because no more people could fit onto Independence Avenue where the rally began. We walked south of Independence, in a huge crowd that I thought was the March. It wasn’t. After 10 blocks, we shimmied our way to the rally.
A moment during the rally that brought me to tears was hearing Janelle Monae’s performance of “Hell You Talmbout” as she chanted the names of black lives lost to corrupt police violence. The mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and others joined Monae to chant their sons’ names along with the crowd.
We then again made our way through the slow-moving crowd toward the National Mall to start the march. Signs were raised; signs with humor, love, beauty, wit, anger, power, and lots of curse words and vaginas.
Walking past the Treasury Building, I saw banners with Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Harriet Tubman. I reflected on the history of America in that moment. I realized how far we have come since the days of Lincoln and slavery, but also how Donald Trump’s presidency aims to set back these advances our country has made recently regarding equal rights.
I hope these marches will continue and bring about the desired change women and all marginalized people deserve.
We left the March and saw, in my opinion, the most empowering quote on a 15-foot tall sign: “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”
Cory Booker, Democratic Senator from New Jersey, sat on his desk and recorded a message a few days ago: “We’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to keep moving… The Women’s March, let that not be a moment. Let it be a movement. Stay in this movement. Keep fighting, keep pushing. I believe WE will make a difference.”
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