"I ate the day
Deliberately, that it's tang
Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb."
There we were, slowly making our way with the crowd at the Women's March on Washington, when my sister showed me this quote from poet Seamus Heaney. I felt quickened, I want to be pure verb. Our feet moved forward, part of a river of verbs, fellow citizens quickened by the tang of our drive to prevent the new President from changing our country into its worst self. We were quickened to awaken others, to march and chant and sing our commitment to maintaining America's ideals and its promise of equality and justice for all.
I am starting this photo-journal of the day with MILCK's beautiful song, "I Can't Keep Quiet". Play it, and keep it playing as you look through the pictures.
Eight years ago, I had attended President Obama's first inauguration. That crowd was enormous. At 4 a.m., the Metro was packed with people, making it difficult to get on and get off the trains. At the stops near the mall, you had to push yourself off the train and into the pool of people snaking their way toward the escalators to lead us out of the tunnel. It took an hour to move from the car to the turnstile. The street was just as densely crammed, yet everyone was civil. Everyone was excited. Everyone was a bit hushed in anticipation. It was freezing, but we didn't notice. That crowd was largely African American. It was one of the greatest days of my life, being part of that crowd on that day.
This Women's March crowd was the closest in number that I have witnessed. My friends and I were stunned by the numbers, I had something substantial to compare it to and I knew this was big. We managed to get within view of the Jumbotron located between the Air and Space Museum and the Hirschorn Pavillion. Independence Avenue was clogged with people from the Capitol all the way to 17th Street. It was insane--in a good way.
It was clear the city police had not anticipated the masses, either.
There was little crowd control, and you had to be careful not to get crushed in the tide of people moving as close as the could to the Jumbotrons broadcasting the rally stage.
It took quite a bit of time to cross a street, pushing your way through the throng.
We decided that the crush was not comfortable and moved back toward the mall. It too, was filled with people milling about, holding their posters, taking pictures, and trying to figure out where to go. There were numerous humorous signs, as well as those intended to dis the new President. Many of the signs were powerful. Some were personal. However, most addressed specific issues around equality and justice, respect for science and the environment, and of course, reproductive rights. Many, including the hats, were a defiant statement to the crassness shown by our President when discussing his habits of assaulting women.
Turns out the crowd was so overwhelming that it had filled the march route! The streets were packed with people. We decided to move toward 14th street, just north of the Washington Monument, and jump into the march--well, the impromptu march that started in an attempt to move folks.
At times, the chants and singing were led by people I would assume were active in the '60s protest movements, singing songs by Peter, Paul, and Mary and Woodie Guthrie. It gave us a chuckle to hear younger adults and teens saying, "What is THAT song? I don't know it." Sometimes the chants were current, "Show me what democracy looks like!" and the return call, "This is what democracy looks like!" Then, there were the chants aimed at this President, "We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter!"
Many of the marchers were children. I can only imagine how it might impact their lives to be part of something so big at such a young age.
These two were adorable and full of energy. A young woman heard them leading chants and let them use her miniature megaphone.
They chanted, "Show me what democracy looks like! And, the crowd responded, "This is what democracy looks like!" Also, "We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!"
Streets of humanity melded with other streets of humanity as we made our way to the White House.
This guy led chants as we approached the African American History Museum.
People marched for a myriad of reasons.
When we got to the Ellipse in front of the White House, we milled around for a bit and then started back to our friend's house. We headed up Pennsylvania Avenue and ran smack dab into another stream of marchers!
As we moved against the tide, we got a chance to watch and marvel and feel so grateful to be part of this movement.
Now, it is time to keep the momentum going. As refugees get discriminated against, despite having gone through intensive vetting; as Mexicans feel the need to defend themselves against our President's insulting behavior; as scientists are censored and silenced; it is imperative upon us to advocate for them.
#resist We have only just begun.