Yesterday was an unbelievable day in American History as millions of people across the United States and the World participated in the Women’s March. I marched locally in the city of Portland, Maine with my daughters, my husband and friends.
A few days before the march six hundred people were expected, the day before the march the estimate bumped up to about two thousand, and the day of the march at least ten thousand people showed up. There were estimates that as many as fifteen and twenty thousand people protested in Portland.
People gathered along Congress Street and Eastern Promenade Boulevard, and when we had found parking, and walked many, many blocks to convene with the protestors, at that intersection and up Congress Street was a sea of people, women, families, men. In fact, at one point, organizers encouraged us and others to find a place in the procession, which we were passing as we made our way to the protest origin at the Promenade.
On the lookout for our many friends who also were also marching, we were happy to be waved down by some of them as we found our place in the procession. What a happy time to know you are marching in an event of deep significance with your friends and family. For my people who were there, but that I did not find in the sea of faces, we were with you in spirit.
Many people brought their kids and toted them on their backs, in their strollers, or encouraged them to “walk just a little bit further.” It was notable to me the sheer number of men who showed up to support the cause as well. All ages, all races. And it was the energy of the protest was noticeable. It was calm, peaceful, and even, loving.
Welding my hefty camera, many times I was holding my “All People” sign under my arm while I captured images of the crowd and the amazing signs, dropping it on the ground sometimes as I maneuvered that instrument. People picked the sign up for me, and carried it. Asked me if they should hoist it in the air. Amazing.
My daughter carried a sign that she made at a neighbor’s peace gathering the day before, where the children made signs and wrote postcards they plan to mail to the White House. On her sign she wrote, “Peace, Love, Equality” in different colored letters with a red peace sign in the corner. On the back she wrote a Martin Luther King quote she memorized from her school Civil Rights Club that read, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” She proudly hoisted that sign along the mile-plus route that we walked to Portland City Center.
For me I was happy being there. I didn’t really expect to be happy, per se. I had just expected to March, without much thought to how I would feel. I was happy that SO MANY PEOPLE showed up to support women and causes that were important to them. I was happy to again reinforce for my daughters that their voice matters. When something happens politically that they do not agree with, they can act and stand up to it, not sit and wait quietly, hoping things will change. I was happy to be there with my husband, who holds a feminist point of view (yes, men can have this!), and supports equality for all people, as I suspect all of the men did who participated.
After the election, my daughters were sad and angry that Trump was somehow elected into office. My youngest daughter told her teacher at school last week that Friday was going to be a sad day because Trump would become president. According to my daughter, her teacher kindly told her that she could march in one of the women’s marches. Teacher, a BIG thank you for saying that!
And it really seemed to make a difference in her demeanor after the protest march. She did something she had never really done before and announced to us that she wanted to play outside, even though her sister had other things she wanted to do. And she built a snowwoman all by herself, with a flower girl wrap on its head, pink scarf around her neck, and the longest carrot nose you can possibly imagine. She was so proud of her creation, as was I. Oh, the power of one’s voice and activation . . .
I am grateful to my many friends and colleagues who marched in Portland, Augusta, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Raleigh, Lexington, Austin, Los Angeles and places all over the globe. You are amazing! And I am grateful to the millions of people who came out yesterday to stand up to an administration that was swarming like a hornets nest in response to the rising tide that waited outside the White House. Ah, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, you gave us a real show. Looking angry, harried, harassed, and hurried, I was reminded of the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland . . .