Chants of "This is what democracy looks like! This is what equality looks like! This is what feminism looks like!" rang throughout downtown DC today as hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children marched on Washington. Pussyhats in every shade of pink spangled the crowd, while a vast array of sharp, creative signs bounced up and down like so many babies on mamas' hips.
Over the past few days, it came to pass that my undergraduate thesis advisor decided to march in DC rather than St. Louis (she now teaches at Wash U). Marie was one of the best professors I had at Northwestern, a powerful, inspiring role model, and a sharp-as-a-tack woman with a real wit. She came into my life as I was really starting to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. To this day I am grateful for her presence during those years.
We have stayed in touch over the years, at times more regularly than others as happens with lives and children and moves, and the spot in my heart she stole back in 1996 has remained hers. So it goes without saying that when I offered her a place to stay while she was here for the march and she said, "I'd love that." I was thrilled. It'd been about fourteen years since we'd last seen each other.
This morning, as we donned our pussyhats, gathered up our signs, water bottles, snacks, and phone chargers, and headed to catch our bus with a thousand other supporters of Congressman Raskin (MDs 8th!), it occurred to me that participating in the Women's March with a woman who played such a role in the development of my self as woman was extraordinarily meaningful
As Marie and I marched, every bit of the heartbreak and sadness I struggled with yesterday was replaced today with hope. With the aggregate hope and determination and strength and fire of people who are appropriately outraged and disgusted and who know that we must be and are better than the petty, ignorant, pathetic, yappy toddler the electoral college elected.
The crowd, more than double what the organizers expected, was...gosh, words almost fail me right now. A huge, teeming mass of people with signs, strollers, even dogs, was polite, generous, friendly, determined. They were from all over this country, they were straight, gay, trans, they were young, old, black, white, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, progressive Christian, atheist. There was not a hint of violence or bad behavior (other than the Trump supporter who was sternly reprimanded). There was respect. They were happy. Together we felt hope.
Because hundreds of thousands turned out, we filled the march route without moving. The same was true in Chicago. The marching part of the march was called off. We became, instead, a glorious free-form rally, covering the Mall and blocks of Independence and Constitutions Avenues among many others.
The real work begins tomorrow. The hope will at times be hard to maintain in the face of lies about inauguration crowd sizes and attempts to fully discredit the press, further investigation into Trump-Putin collaboration and the clown car of cabinet nominees bumbling through their hearings. In the face of the misogynistic backlash of tweets that has already begun. I pity and am sickened by those deplorable men, but their pathetic words can't diminish the joy and awe and anticipation I felt today.
In some way, I believe the outpouring of righteous reaction today changed the course of things (I hope, I think), started to right our dangerously listing ship. I am grateful to the organizers of the march, to everyone who either marched today or were with us in spirit, who knitted and shipped us pussyhats, who made signs, who inspired signs, who organized the more than 670 sister events both nationally and and internationally who remained calm and warm and dignified and strong.
We are the resistance! And we are on the right side of history.