We left our homes at midnight Friday night to meet up with fellow travelers. By 1:30 a.m. we boarded one of 80 buses leaving Connecticut. We rode through the night to arrive at RFK stadium in Washington, D.C. before dawn. We walked two miles to the march. By the end of the day, we clocked nine miles on our feet. The crowds were tremendous, the numbers so much greater than the organizers expected. Two hundred thousand were anticipated; by the end of the day, the number was reported to be over a million in Washington alone, with several million around the world. A sea of pink pussy hats filled the eye in every direction, along with creative and provocative handmade signs.
I have never been in the midst of so many people, nor felt so much like a sardine as our group of six squeezed through the crowd to reach a spot where we could see and hear the rally projected onto a jumbotron. Yet, in spite of being mildy claustrophobic, I never felt afraid or threatened.
And this is what free speech sounds like (click on names for links to YouTube):
Feminist activist and icon Gloria Steinem called it an outpouring of democracy that she has never seen before.
California junior senator Kamala Harris connected women's issues to human issues.
Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore gave us our to-do list for activism.
Civil rights activist Angela Davis spoke eloquently about social justice and inclusive feminism.
Actor and activist Ashley Judd electrified the audience with a bodacious performance of the poem "Nasty Women," written by a 17-year old feminist from her home state of Tennessee.
The rally continued for five hours, two hours longer than planned. By hour four, we were all tired. The chant to "March, March, March" had begun. We were packed together so tightly that people around us were having panic attacks. The crowd made room somehow as friends helped them move to a safe space, which in our case was the CNN van parked on the corner. I maintained my calm by practicing yoga breathing. My friend told me later she used her Lamaze breathing techniques to keep her cool.
Finally a volunteer marshal appeared and directed us to turn around so we could march a different route. We shuffled down the street and the march began. Then, at last, we had a chance to sit.
After a long trudge back to the bus, and a wearying ride back north, I walked in the door twenty-seven hours after I left. I felt inspired, energized and, exhausted. The experience of being among that many who share your outrage and disbelief as well as your values is deep and profound, both comforting and energizing
All the speakers emphasized that this march was the beginning, that we all needed to go home and become active in our communities. A few weeks ago I tweeted: "Am I REALLY going to have to call my senators every day for the next four years?" It appears the answer is yes.
I stopped crying three days after the election. I decided I would not sit by and do nothing. The change that had occurred was huge and scary, unlike anything I'd seen in six decades. The antidote for feeling powerless is action. I signed up for the Women's March as soon as I heard about it.
On the day after the inauguration, something bigger than the election happened. People all over the country, all over the world, made a statement that cannot be ignored. As Gloria Steinem said to the marchers, "You are putting your bodies where your beliefs are. Sometimes it's not enough to hit the Send button."
Women's rights are human rights. It's up to each one of us who believes this is true to take whatever steps we can to ensure the progress that has been secured is protected, and that further progress toward an equitable society is established.
Which means we have to get to work. Progressive change has never happened without a fight. Sometimes a very long fight.
Because that is what democracy looks like.
>>> Want to know what you can do? The Women's March website is one place to begin. Find it here.
>>> And check out Indivisible for a practical guide, written by former congressional staffers, for resisting the Trump agenda.