The Women’s March on Washington was primary among the events and the 500,000 who showed up was twice the 250,000 that attended the inauguration ceremony. EBONY.com had contributors at four of the dozens of marches to describe the energy brought by the people who were there.
More than a half a million people stood under gray skies Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington. The gloomy day was quite a metaphor for what some believe will be doom under the new Trump administration, but the energy was pure motivation to make voices heard and to set a progressive agenda.
There was plenty of celebrity star power at the March. Singer Alicia Keys got the crowd excited with “This Girl is on Fire” and Janelle Monae took the stage with the Mothers of the Movement including the mothers of Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner.
Tanya Barnes, 40, of Brooklyn, traveled to Washington, she said, for her four nieces and three cousins.
“It’s important to me that we as women stand together for equality and justice because we deserve it,” says Barnes who is a manager at Walmart.
Denise Holly, 49, of North Carolina works for NASA and said that women have been degraded for years. “It’s time for us to come together and stand up for what is right,” Holly said.
Holly came out in part, she said, because of the election of Donald Trump as president. Zack Gerdes of Silver Spring, Md., also came out because of Trump. “I’m extremely upset that Trump was elected as president, inaugurated as president,” said Gerdes, 24. “I’m here to show solidarity with women, with people of color, the LGBT community, the [disabled] community, also civil rights, Native people, the list goes on and on and on,” Gerdes said.
A conservation organizer for the Sierra Club, Gerdes is concerned that the civil rights page was eliminated on the White House website as soon as Trump was inaugurated.
“I’m afraid that that’s going to show a reversal of any progress that we’ve made over the past few years of civil rights, for dismantling the police state in this country and I’m kind of terrified for what it means for protesting, for getting justice for unarmed people gunned down by police,” said Gerdes, who was one of many men in attendance at the march.
Melanie Campbell, head of the Black Women’s Roundtable, said the March sent a message to all elected officials that women were going to fight for their issues no matter who is in office.
“We’re going to challenge our president. We’re going to challenge our congress and we’re going to be organizing in the states,” said Campbell. “In the four to six years there could be a power shift in this country.”
Campbell said the number one issue that concerned Black women was affordable health care – ironically the exact thing the new administration is trying to dismantle. Millennials, she said, were worried about criminal justice and policing reform. All groups living wages and voting rights.
“The reality is there is no ‘win’ and you sit on the sideline,” said Campbell. “You have to constantly fight for your issues and fight for your community in making sure that we have an opportunity in this country.”
Her words were echoed by former Black Panther and activist Angela Davis who talked about a “collective resistance,” and how “we must be militant in defense of vulnerable populations.”
Her words rang true among the Black Women of Congress who stood in solidarity with the March’s organizers. At the March were congresswomen Yvette Clarke, Barbara Lee, Gwen Moore, Sheila Jackson Lee and Terri Sewell, among others.
Veteran legislator Maxine Waters noted the group’s opposition to attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions and education secretary nominee Betsy Devos. “And you better keep your hands off of Planned Parenthood,” Waters warned.
Freshman senator Kamala Harris of California also expressed concern with the direction of the country telling the crowd, “This is a pivotal moment in our country.”
Hip hop artist Alia Sharrief, 27, performed the song “Who Ready” to an all-ready pumped up crowd. She mentioned Sandra Bland and Natasha McKenna, two African American women who died while in custody of the police.
“Why I march is to stand for human rights, and to stand for the voiceless and the forgotten, and to let people know I’m not afraid of Donald Trump, we’re not afraid of Donald Trump, the power is with the people,” said Sharrief.
Speaker after speaker charged the crowd with going to back to their communities and continuing the fight for human rights. As the day wrapped, R&B crooner Maxwell summed up the March’s mission with an emotional version of “This Woman’s Work.”
Quoting civil rights legend Ella Baker, activist Angela Davis warned, “We who believe in Freedom cannot rest until it comes.”
The Washington march took place as President Trump appeared at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. He made no comment on the day’s events.
The mammoth Women’s March in the Big Apple showed little of the division along racial lines that was described in a New York Times article about the run-up to its Washington, D.C. counterpart (and evident on social media). No one was heard being told to check their privilege, or that all lives matter. As the massive crowd – estimated early on at 200,000 by Manhattan Borough president Gale Brewer – snaked its way from Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations complex to within two blocks of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, the multiracial and gender-diverse crowd seemed unified on one matter: their opposition to the divisive rhetoric of America’s 45th president, Donald Trump.
Pink knit “p***y hats” with their distinct feline shape were ubiquitous, as were protest signs with some variation of the crotch-grabbing theme that has come to represent Trump’s attitude toward women. (“So many pussies, such small hands.” “P***y grabs back.”) However, many progressive causes were expressed on cardboard. “Gerrymandering is racist voter suppression” and “Black Lives Matter” were toted by Black and White marchers alike (as were a smattering of simply bearing the image of Beyoncé). A White child sat in her stroller bearing a sign with the plaintive message, “I just miss Obama.”
“I’m here today because as a mother of three, including two young girls, we need to show that women are united, and that we’re going to push back against that negative rhetoric [by President Trump], against the attacks on women and people of color,” said Denora Getachew, an African-American executive at a civics education non-profit who was marching with a group from the Greater New York Chapter of the Links, Inc., and Eleanor’s Legacy.
Richard (who only wished to be identified by his first name) was an African-American man attending the march with his two young sons and a friend of theirs who is White. “I think this is important for my sons,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that we stand in solidarity with our mothers and our sisters and our grandmothers, but really, everyone whose lives and dignity are at risk – from immigrants to people of color and women. We want everyone to know that we all stand together, and it’s still our country.”
Speaking to demonstrators at a rally before the march, entertainer Whoopi Goldberg cautioned, “This can’t end today. This has to go on and on. This is how people ended the war in Vietnam. They kept marching, they kept b*tching, they kept saying, ‘No, no, no.’”
Rosie Perez, first lady of New York Shirlane McCray, actress Hellen Mirren, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney were also among those who addressed ralliers.
Representing the men, Broadway veteran Brian Stokes Mitchell lauded “all of these badass women,” and took what sounded like a deft swipe at President Trump’s declaration of a National Day of Patriotism, when he said, “We are here to reinvigorate all of our own patriotism and just remind each other that the people who are in our offices are there for us. We are not for them.”
— Sheryl Huggins Salomon
It was unclear exactly how many people would come, but on Saturday the streets of Downtown Los Angeles were flooded with determined residents protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president. Organizers of the Women’s March on Los Angeles said that more than 100,000 people had registered on their site to attend the two-mile walk from Pershing Square to LA’s City Hall, but they expected far more.
Shouting slogans like “her body, her choice,” followed by “my body, my choice,” the sheer number of protestors were so great that by 8 a.m. there were reports that police wouldn’t even let commuters enter stations at Culver City or at Hollywood and Highland. People were getting there by any means necessary – taking Uber rideshares to get close and then walking, some of them even using canes and wheelchairs.
Downtown L.A. streets were so gridlocked that protestors had to be dropped off at freeway entrances near the Walt Disney Concert Hall and walking several blocks towards the start of the march. Attendees, many wearing pink pussy cat hats, carried signs with messages like “Not my choice,” “Boy bye,” “A woman’s place is in the resistance,” and, “This is not normal.”
Another one – featuring pictures of Nina Simone, Angela Davis and Billie Holiday – said: “Standing on the shoulders of giants.” The mix was diverse – mainly white but many African-Americans and Latinos.
Scheduled speakers included Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Marchers were also expected to be joined by celebrities like Debbie Allen, Brandy, Arianna Grande and Jane Fonda.
As marchers tried, some unsuccessfully, to enter Pershing Square, the roars and cheers in response to the speakers could be heard for several blocks.
Rae Jones, 37, traveled from Venice, Calif., with her husband Garrett and two daughters, Billie, 3, and Wiley, 18 months. It was her first protest and she and her husband thought it was important for their girls to come with them. “They may not have a memory of it when they grow up,” she says. “But at least they can say they were there. It’s too important not to go.”
— Marissa Charles
A torrential Saturday morning downpour and subsequent delays failed to keep 63,000 strong from flooding the streets of downtown Atlanta in protest of Donald Trump’s inauguration and an agenda that demonstrators considered racist, xenophobic and misogynistic.
Bearing signs that read “I’m with her,” “Together we rise,” and the nearly ubiquitous “P***y Grabs Back,” the mixed crowd of genders and races marched almost silently from the Center for Civil and Human Rights to the State Capitol building, led by civil rights icon and 5th district Representative John Lewis. Chants like “Fired up, Ready to Go” and “Yes We Can” punctuated the silence as the crowd passed CNN Center.
Rep. John Lewis, who has been engaged in a feud with President Trump after saying that he was “not a legitimate president,” spoke at the rally, firing up the crowd.
“I know something about marching,” said the civil rights icon who led civil rights protests in the 1960s. “We have a moral obligation to fight and never lose hope. We must vote like we never have before.”
The crowd stood silently and punched the air with their signs at the intersection of Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Baker Street, in front of the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. The crowd continued down toward CNN Center and as the crowd turned the corner to head down MLK Drive, several onlookers turned to see a sea of marchers passing Philips Arena’s famed “Atlanta” bridge.
The “city too busy to hate” lived up to its moniker as the crowd marched down MLK Drive past flashing police cars. A pair of Black female officers looked happily stunned as they waved back at happy marchers — and even the camouflaged officers on the roof couldn’t resist a wave or two.
Former mayor Shirley Franklin surveyed the crowd and praised the marchers for sending a message: “We understand that we stand on sacred ground in the U.S., and we won’t let anyone take that anyone take that away from us! We know from whence we came – and we are not going back!”
— Chanel Lee
Another estimated 250,000 people showed up beginning early Saturday for the Chicago event. In fact so many attended that the march itself had to be cancelled. The march was set to begin at Grant Park, near the shore of Lake Michigan and proceed west toward Federal Plaza. “Michigan Avenue is flooded with marchers. Wabash is flooded with marchers. State Street is flooded with marchers. People are still waiting for trains in Oak Park. We called, and you came,” said Chicago organizer Liz Radford. “We have flooded the march route. We have flooded Chicago.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 21, 2017
Organizers say the Chicago rally was the largest event outside of Washington D.C. They planned for only 60,000 people but as much as six times that showed up.