On Saturday, January 21st, three million people- from every corner of the world- left their homes and walked into the streets showing solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. I was one of the 500,000 people in DC and it was the single, most powerful moment of my life. It was a day filled with overwhelming joy and emotional moments so powerful they brought tears to my eyes. It was the first time since November that I knew everything was going to be okay. In fact, it was going to be more than okay. Trump’s rise to power is going to bring the good out in the majority and the majority is ready to fight.
There is no way to capture everything that happened on that day, but I wanted to highlight some of the more powerful moments for me:
On the way to Washington DC, every rest stop was crammed with a battalion of buses filled with marchers. And along the highways, bus after bus, filled with pink-hatted riders, passed each other heading to Washington. We would wave to each other through the windows and greet each other in the bathrooms with enthusiasm.
Once leaving the bus at RFK stadium, and beginning the several miles walk toward the hub of the March, house after house was decorated with posters and signs welcoming us into Washington DC. Several locals decided to greet us personally, sitting on their porches and cheering us on, playing music for us and standing at corners to offer us help with directions. Local churches opened their doors to us so that we could use the restroom, warm up and get some hot coffee. They were glad we were there and it showed.
Once approaching the stage for the official Women’s March on Washington event, it was immediately clear that the numbers of people pouring in were way over what was expected. I tried to get to the stage, but to no avail. The crowd was simply too vast. So, along with thousands of others, instead of standing, we began to march. And the march spilled out in every direction. Throngs of people walked down every street of the city, raising their voices in unison. Initially, the March was not given permission to walk on the Mall in front of the Washington Monument, but when the police officers saw how many people had arrived, they had to open all the streets and public areas for the crowds. There was simply not enough space to put everyone.
I am an introvert and the idea of large crowds gives me a sinking feeling, but I did not feel overwhelmed on Saturday. The people, each and every one of them, were so kind. Marchers waited for their turns, they apologized if they accidently bumped into someone or stepped on their feet, they smiled at each person passing by. 500,000 people filled the streets and there was not one incident of violence and not one arrest. The mood was one of kindness, compassion, and empathy. It was a day of people coming together to let those who are scared know that we will not allow hatred to push us back in time and destroy the progress we have made as a country.
I noticed many of the targeted groups Trump has threatened marching on Saturday. A plethora of people in wheelchairs and people with disabilities took to the streets. Every person in the crowd made sure disabled marchers could get through the throngs of people by clearing a path and assisting whenever they could. Muslims and Hispanics and Native Americans were out in mass, clearly elated to see so many people supporting them. We were promising that we will not allow this new president to bully or harass them. People were heard saying, “he builds a wall, we tear it down,” or “he creates a Muslim Registry, we all sign it.” One of my favorite moments was when a landscaping truck, filled with about ten, male, Hispanic workers in the back, was stranded in the throngs of people. They were not frustrated or annoyed. They were joyfully cheering us on as we passed by.
Because it was not just women marching. Throngs of men came out to support their wives, mothers, daughters and the females in their lives. One of the most touching moments of the march was seeing little boys with their signs, proudly claiming that they too are feminists. It gave me so much hope for our future. The fathers, carrying their daughters on their shoulders, walking through the crowds, the little girls holding up their signs, it was an overwhelming moment. You could see in the eyes of the young that they knew something powerful was happening. Generations of families walked side by side. In fact, my bus was organized by a man who knew he must take action. He arranged a bus so that he, his wife, and four daughters made it to Washington and he invited fifty friends along. You can see his story highlighted in this cbs article.
The most powerful moment of the day came when the crowd noticed a black woman carrying her sign. It read: My daughter was shot and killed by police. She was unarmed. Her 4-month-old baby was in the back of the car. She was a military vet. Her name was India Kager. As the crowd noticed her sign, someone started to chant: Say her name! A few answered the chant, shouting out, “India Kager!” Soon, others joined in. After about 30 seconds, the throngs of people were shouting out,”Say her name! India Kager!” over and over and over again. India’s mother, Gina Best (a mortgage banker from Maryland) started to sob and shake as the crowd circled her in love and roared out her daughter’s name. She shakily tried to get her phone out to video the moment, so others came in and helped her hold her sign as she videoed the crowd yelling out her daughter’s name. This went on for several minutes. As she sobbed, people surrounding her (also in tears) approached her and hugged her. One after another, they came to her to tell her that they would never forget her daughter and make sure her name and her story lives on.You can read her story here.
Of course, there were a few pockets of negativity experienced at the hands of Trump supporters. It was to be expected and did not spoil the day. Some “Bikers for Trump” tried to engage us by hurling insults. Some teenage boys (wearing their Trump trucker hats) loudly complained as we walked past them on the way back to the bus. Some people in a restaurant (filled with protesters) talked loudly about how ridiculous the march was. People back home, on their facebooks, vented about how leaving our signs for Mr. Trump at the White House and outside his hotel was ‘trashy’, ‘classless’ and ‘disrespectful to the environment.” One man even said, “I told you there are all a lot of disgusting pigs.” These jabs and insults were seen for what they were: attacks by angry people. They were scrambling to react to the massive stand against Trump this weekend. The visual of millions of people, across the world and across America, coming out in mass to tell Mr. Trump that we will not allow him to destroy our country, juxtaposed with the images of the small turnout he had for his inauguration, flamed their fears. Their biggest fear? Maybe that wall is not going to be built after all.
This Saturday was the moment I realized that everything is going to be okay. In fact, it will be better than okay. What Mr. Trump did, with his threats and posturing, was unify groups of people from all over the country (and world) into a common cause. No longer were we a part of a certain group: homosexuals, Hispanics, rape survivors, Muslims, immigrants, women (or any other maligned group in this country.) We were one. And we were filled with an overwhelming conviction to fight for each other.
Saturday was Day One of the Resistance. There will be many days to follow. You can join the cause by going to 100daysofresistance.com and following the steps laid out there. The time for anger has passed us; now is the time for action. Trump and his supporters like to refer to us as ‘a bunch of snowflakes.’ They are right. We are snowflakes. A multitude of snowflakes create an avalanche. And winter is coming.