I will first just quickly give you the main details of the day, and then I will break down the rest of my recap into little categories. I know it's not as eloquent to do it this way, but it is the only way I can even attempt to organize all of my thoughts!
The quick(ish) story.
On Saturday morning at 6am, me, my mom, and my friend, Andrea, caught a coach bus (only about 5 minutes from my house!) and traveled to DC. When I got on the bus, I was immediately filled with emotion just to be in the presence of so many like minded people. I often feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone here in Central PA, and I was heartened to see so many people who held the same concerns as I and were alarmed enough with this past election that we felt the need to travel to DC and make our voices heard.
Due to some light traffic, we arrived in DC by 8:30. Parking was easy at RFK. Here's a pic of our bus crew and our AWESOME organizer, Kelly!
Many people took the metro up to the march (2.5 miles away) but a lot of us walked. We passed a lot of police officers and National Guard members who were there to make sure we were all safe. Many of the National Guard members held pink beads in support. Some of them even hung the beads on the side mirror of their trucks. It was a lovely gesture of support.
As we got closer to the main stage (we were never even able to get closer than like 2 city blocks) it started to get really crowded. I feel silly telling you this, but I wasn't expecting it to be as crowded as it was! There were so many people! Due to the crowds, we were unable to hear the speakers and performers. But that doesn't mean we didn't feel inspired...
We ended up sitting on the steps that looked over the reflecting pool at The Capitol. Banners and other setup from the inauguration were still there from the day before. We sat and people watched as literally thousands of marchers descended down onto the National Mall. While there were lots of women, there were a lot of men, children, and families too. It was so fun to read the witty signs. People sang. People chanted. I will admit, I cried a couple times. This was democracy!
After a long wait for the port o johns, we ended up sitting in front of the National Gallery of Art. There were lots of people milling around and fun signs to read. Before we knew it (the day really did go fast!) it was 1:15 and time to march!
The thing was, there was just SO MANY PEOPLE that there was nowhere for us to go! We ended up marching to the march, which sounds silly, but that's what happened on a lot of side streets. Then they had to alter the march route because the crowds were so big that it was already filled up. So I guess what happened is there were just people marching everywhere! Our side street march met up with one of the "bigger" marches. When we got to that one, it was slow moving. It took us about 45 minutes to go 2 city blocks! But I will tell you, it was exciting THE WHOLE TIME we were marching!
In case you wondered what my pin said!
I guess having too many people rise up is a good thing and not a bad thing!
Photographers will do anything to get a shot!Even though people were nowhere near done marching, at 2:45 we had to start finding our way back to the bus for our 4:00 departure. It was a long walk, made longer by the fact that people were marching everywhere!
Finally, we made it out of the throngs, but there was no way we were going to be able to power walk back to the bus fast enough. Luckily, we were able to catch a taxi and made it back to the bus just before 4pm. We were EXHAUSTED!
I was worried traffic would be bad getting out of the city, but it wasn't worse than coming in. When we were about halfway home, we stopped at Wegman's for dinner and I had my first meal of the day. (I didn't eat or drink due to worrying about bathroom issues!) I was SO FREAKING HUNGRY. I hadn't eaten in 24 hours! What did I have? A piece of fried chicken, carrot flan, crab mac and cheese, and two mozzarella sticks!
Once we were all back on the bus, we munched on our food and passed around the microphone to share our experiences that day. We also shared ways we can continue to stay active. Marching was GREAT, but there is so much more to DO. We all vowed to stay connected on our private Facebook page so we can talk about what to do moving forward.
We got home by 8pm. I was so excited to shower and GO TO BED. WHAT A DAY! And the best part was... I got to share it with my MOMMA!
And now, please don't stop reading... I have so much more to say! The "real" stuff hasn't even been said yet! I broke it all into disjointed sections! Buckle up... or bookmark this for later!
What's the point?
I hope we consider this march a first effort, something like a nationwide committee meeting to put the new administration on notice. We're watching. This is only a first step.
Michael Moore was one of the speakers at the march and he urged us to run for office. I am not sure I am up for that! It sounds so intimidating. One thing I can do is attend local meetings and have my voice heard. That's one thing I plan to do. In fact, I started writing down things I can do. Marching feels great. But I don't want to just go home, post memes on Facebook, and show up at the polls in 2018. I mean, we all have to show up at the polls, but we don't have to wait two years to do something. There is work to be done before that.
The signs/the issues!!!
Many marchers held signs that voiced their concerns. While there was a VAST majority of issues that concern all of us, the one thing I think we all agree on is that we are VERY CONCERNED about the new administration's agenda. Many of the signs focused on women's health issues, particularly a women's right to make decisions for her own body. There were concerns about climate change. Black Lives Matter. Immigration. Equal pay. Education. HEALTHCARE. And probably a lot of things I forget right now because my brain is just swirling.
Here's a video that won't post. Click here! Inspiring!
There were funny signs, thoughtful signs, angry signs... all types. Here are some of the ones I saw and/or some funny ones I saw on the internet.
This guy was quick and to the point...
Since I have been studying Spanish, I was actual able to read some of the Spanish signs!
There was also some horse shit in the road and someone put a little sign on it that said, "Fox News Channel". How do people come up with this stuff?
I know this isn't technically a sign, but I saw a dude wearing a shirt that said, "I just look like a republican." When I marched by him, I laughed so hard. "You do," I told him. (He really did!) He laughed with me.
The MOOD of the march...
I immediately offered him the unopened water I had in my pocket. He was incredibly grateful and I was happy I could help out the dad and the little girl.
There were so many other acts of kindness I saw that day. It really made me want to be a better human.
As you can imagine, this was a great place to people watch! Not only were the signs awesome, but some people dressed up especially for the occasion. There was a man in a unitard dressed as a cat. There were women dressed as the Statue of Liberty. It was just an abundance of EXPRESSION, which I loved.
People sang songs and played music. They chanted. There was an older gentleman pushing his wife in a wheelchair in front of the reflecting pool. He sang God Bless America to her. I cried, and we all clapped for him when he finished.
I joined in on an interesting rendition of This Land is Your Land. I love that song. I need to make sure I sing it with my students before the year is over.
There were also so many elderly women with walkers and wheelchairs. It brought tears to my eyes to see them so motivated to come out and make their voices heard. I hope they were inspired by all the young people marching alongside them. I know I was inspired by the elderly women who I am sure went through so much shit over the course of their lives. I was also inspired to see the teenagers actively involved as well.
I expressed to you that I was a little concerned about safety at the march. What if there was a bomb? What if a crazy dude with a gun came and started mowing us all down? I wasn't too concerned about rioters or destruction of property as I felt like I could move away from that and not be involved if something like that happened. It was the REALLY BIG things I was worried about. On the bus, I wrote down important phone numbers with a sharpie on my arm. I told my mom, "This way, as long as my arm isn't blown off, they will know who to contact." Yes people, this is how my brain works.
As we got off the buses at RFK Stadium and walked 2.5 miles to the march, there was a police presence. They were help directing traffic and getting marchers across the street. There were also members of the National Guard parked nearby, and of course we walked past their building on the way up to the march. This made me feel safe.
For the first part of the march, as the speakers were on the stage and we were milling around the mall (with thousands of other people) I did see some police with their cars, but not a ton. What my mom, Andrea, and I decided was that there were probably lots of police officers in plainclothes in the crowd.
As the day went on and the crowds started marching, there was more of a police presence, especially at intersections. As we were walking back to the stadium up Pennsylvania Avenue, there was just a MASSIVE amount of marchers so there were a lot of police. We passed Trump Tower and the whole front of the building was lined with police as well.
"We will not go away, welcome to your first day!" they chanted past his hotel.
My posse and I tried to thank all police officers we passed. Most of them smiled back and said "You're welcome," or "Have a great day, ladies!" We were so thankful to have them there to protect all of us.
It was so crowded... the police were there to ensure the safety of every one of us!
POWER TO THE PUSSY!
I am sure you remember what our 45th president said about sexual assault, but in case you have forgotten...
Grab us by the pussy? Hell no. Pussy is grabbing back. A movement online called the Pussyhat Project started the knitting of pussy hats for marchers to wear. My mom made a bunch and so did Andrea. I wore a hot pink pussy hat Andrea made me and I LOVE IT. I am going to wear it all the time!
Most people at the march were wearing hats. Men were wearing them and so were children. I actually saw a baby wearing one! So cool!
I know, I know, pussy hats? Seriously? So silly. Sexual assault isn't silly. I get that. But it was a statement and I chose to join in. We're reclaiming the word PUSSY.
This guy was loving it.. (freaking video won't work, click HERE I promise you won't regret it.)
There was a man with a son (who looked to be about 8 years old) walking next to me when this guy was shouting "pussy" on his bull horn.
"What's pussy?" the son asked.
"Pussy means a women's vagina," the father said. "It means power to women."
Out of the nearly 8 hours I was at the rally, I only saw four counter protests going on.
Counter protest #1: On the way to the march, there was a little truck driving up and down the street with pictures of fetuses on it. The crowd I was with just ignored it.
Counter protest #2: While we were sitting outside the art gallery, a truck with a bull horn pulled up with a megaphone and told us Jesus died for our sins and that we were all going to hell. The marchers started chanting "Love trumps hate", but I wish everyone just would have ignored the truck. All they wanted was attention, and it would be worse for them to not get any.
Counter protest #3: Along the march route, there was a group of women from an anti choice group wearing black shirts and holding anti choice signs. They also had a bull horn and one member of their group was telling us that abortion hurts women. As marchers went past this group we chanted, "My body, my choice." Neither the marching crowd nor the anti choice crowd was violent or combative. I actually soaked in the moment. This is AMERICA. This is CIVILITY. We could all protest and make our voices heard without being violent towards one another. It's a beautiful thing, don't you think?
The election of Trump is NOT NORMAL, and I refuse to normalize it. This march is not a "temper tantrum", as I have seen it described by some online. This is not "whining". These are ISSUES women and men are concerned about. We are not protesting the legitimacy of Trump's win. He won the electoral college... even though he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million (10 million if you count third party votes). But the popular vote ain't the rules of the game!
But that doesn't negate the fact that MORE PEOPLE do not want his dangerous agenda. More people think he is dangerous and unfit. We will not sit down in regards to global warming. We will not sit down in regards to women's rights. We will not sit down in regards to education, immigration, Black Lives Matter, equal pay, HEALTHCARE...
Cher said it best: "Stand up and be counted or sit and be nothing."
The truth is, it doesn't matter who you voted for, Trump is going to let us down. We're in this together. We are all in the same ship called America. We are going to NEED each other these next 4 (hopefully) years. Let's work together. Let's KEEP GOING.
The march was Saturday. But let's go. What's next!?