“No hate. No fear. Everyone is welcome here.”
The words were chanted by women, men and children around me as I marched past the Washington Monument with 499,999 other people on Saturday in Washington D.C. A band played ahead of us, giving me a little extra pep in my step despite a churning stomach and a feeling of overwhelm from being in such a large crowd. Thousands of colorful signs – literally and figuratively – brightened the otherwise gray day.
I was with my good friend, Beth. The day after the American presidential election we declared that if we had the opportunity to raise our voices in Washington for women and girls, we would. We didn’t realize the time would come so quickly.
On Friday morning, we hopped in a car in Maine and drove to Delaware, where we stayed with Beth’s friend, spotting fellow marchers along our route. On Saturday morning we drove to a Maryland Metro station and waited two hours to get onto a train. We wore “pussyhats” and soaked every moment in, including a Metro transit policeman asking to try on a fellow marcher’s hat. There were photo opportunities and conversations and lots of anticipation. No one complained.
Once on the platform, a woman with a megaphone gave us the ground rules for the train to ensure our safety. Though she was working and dealing with an amazing amount of people, she smiled and thanked us for coming. Before the train arrived she asked us, “Who run the world?” We replied, “We do!” And we were off.
The train was full, but the Metro station in D.C. was even more packed. Wall to wall people, mostly women, were patiently waiting to exit the station onto the streets.
Chants of “keep hope alive” and “this is what democracy looks like” enveloped the station.
A rendition of “This Land is Your Land” spontaneously broke out. We were crammed like sardines with no place to go and happy as could be. When we passed a Metro worker, we made sure to thank him.
The “march” started well before anyone walked towards the White House. When we peacefully made our way out of the station, the chants continued as we made our way to Independence Avenue. Signs and pink hats were everywhere. People walked the streets while others lined them simply observing. There were people as far as the eye could see. People of all ages, genders, colors and ethnicities. It was incredible.
Beth and I made our way to Independence Avenue in a sea of people. When we stopped, we could barely move. But the energy was positive and the crowd peaceful. We found an alcove and listened to some of the speakers. We heard Alicia Keys and smiled as a little girl peaked around the wall to see the big screen behind the crowd, standing close to her mom.
When we started to collectively march towards the White House, I began to feel the importance of the day. It was historic and powerful and filled me with hope.
Though the movement was slow, it gave us time to read signs, chant some of our beliefs and soak it all in. Beth and I took a selfie by the Washington Monument with a “We the People” sign in the background.
After the election, I had talked to my sons about how we would use our voice and stand up for our fundamental beliefs if we felt the need. That even if we don’t agree with our new president, we should allow him to lead while also making sure he understands what is important to us. Like I’ve said here in the past, “As moms, it’s our job to show our kids how to be kind and tolerant of others while also knowing when to use our voice to stand up for what we believe in.”
Saturday wasn’t about protesting. Not for me and Beth. It was about making our voice heard for women and girls everywhere. For my boys, who I hope will be feminists in their own rights. It was about making sure women’s rights are seen as human rights. With so many marches for women around America and the world, I hope our leaders are listening.
What message do you hope we sent with the Women’s Marches?
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Jennifer Iacovelli the author of Simple Giving.