“We will not go away; welcome to your first day,” we chanted as we took over the streets of Washington D.C. on January 21, 2017. Pink hats, knitted by women around the world and mailed to D.C. for marchers, as far as the eye could see. Children with handmade signs held hands with moms and dads, aunties, grandmas, sending the next generation the message that they are strong, bold and have a voice.
People complained that organizers didn’t have loud enough speakers, or room, for the over a million women who streamed into the streets from buses, the metro, Uber, and houses with women from around the globe bedding down on couches and air mattresses or on friends’ floors. But this is the success. They imagined at most 500,000. And the people kept coming.
And when people tired of standing on the mall–the place we weren’t permitted to be–and started chanting, “March, march, march” singers like Janelle Monae had the moms of sons fallen to police brutality, like Trayvon Martin, say their child’s name to witness and pay tribute to their lives, and deaths. Though not everyone could hear this powerful tribute, nor the fiery speech by Madonna, the women gathered to talk, and brainstorm. So many what’s next conversations floated through the air. Black women talking to older white women from Michigan and Montana. Coastal LGBTQ activists chatting with young girls from West Virginia, Florida, Arizona.
And when the women finally tired of waiting well past the original marching time, in spite of rumors that homeland security was shutting down the march, the women headed to the streets only to find them barricaded.
So women climbed atop walls and traffic signals and pointed the marchers toward Pennsylvania Avenue. Here we took over the streets, filled them, up past the Trump Hotel, the White House and through downtown. Women in wheelchairs, 80 year olds, babies, fathers, grandfathers, joined the able bodied to sing and chant and hold each other up to say we are here. We’ve grieved and now we are ready to stand together–the Black Lives Matter, socialists, LGBTQ activists, religious people, atheists, health care advocates, reproduction rights activists, mothers, sisters, climate change activists, grandmas, humans, education activists, and people who believe in the good of humanity–to fight.
This post is dedicated to Nicolette Reed from Seattle who made and donated my pink pussy hat. Thank you. I marched for you. And all of us.