by Maddie Crane
On Saturday, 21 January, I traveled to D.C. to attend the Women’s March on Washington. This was a world-wide march that focused on inclusion and rights not only for women, but also for minorities and the LGBTQ community. People were holding signs for why they specifically went, but the overall message was to remind the President and his cabinet that women were not going to be swept under the rug.
The journey to Washington was long but worth it. We boarded a charter bus late Friday night, which made it difficult to sleep due to bathroom breaks every two hours and lack of leg room between the seats. But the excitement started to build when, about an hour outside of D.C, we took a break at a truck stop, where there were hundreds of buses lined up to let women use the bathroom. It gave us a hint of just how many people are really going to be at this protest rally.
We then boarded a subway to take us into the city from the outskirts, where the bus dropped us off. When the train arrived at our stop, we could barely get out of the car due to hundreds of people trying to get up to ground level. We were just inching forward in the line, but I didn’t mind because, to everyone else, the protest had already started. People were shouting chants and holding up signs in the cramped space, exactly how I pictured a protest rally. But the coolest part was when we emerged from the subway to see thousands of people lining the streets of Washington, D.C. People climbed up in trees, lampposts, and buildings to get a good view of the stage. Large screens and speakers were dispersed in the streets so that everyone could see the speaker on the stage. It was so eye opening to see that many people peacefully unite for a common message.
The speakers on the stage spanned from famous feminist leaders like Gloria Steinem to celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson and Madonna. Lots of Latina women gave speeches about the journeys to America, and what it means to be American, but one of the speeches that gave me goosebumps was given by a strong-voiced six-year-old named Sophie Cruz, who delivered her speech flawlessly in English, and then proceeded to give the speech in Spanish, ending with the crowd chanting, “Si se puede,” or “Yes we can.” Many of the speeches were centered around abortion rights and immigration, two issues that are threatened by Donald Trump’s presidency. My two favorite performances were when Alicia Keys briefly sang, “Girl on Fire,” and Madonna sang, “Express Yourself,” inviting the crowd to sing along.
As we tried to make our way away from the stage and to the White House, the crowd was not letting up. For the entire two mile walk, the march was packed with people shouting different chants. “What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like!” The chants were the most impassioned part of the protest. No criminal violations took place, and no one was arrested, despite the thousands of people there. The city was only planning for about 200,000 people, but according to the Washington Post, it surpassed half a million people. This isn’t surprising, because it seemed that every street was packed with protesters, every food truck was selling out of food, and every Port-A-John had a long line. There were so many people, cell phones were considered useless because no one could get cell signal. The amount of people was one of the many things that surprised me at this rally.
As the night progressed, the streets cleared out almost immediately. The streets were transformed from earlier that day with posters replacing people on the streets. Posters were tacked onto fences and trees as a sign that just because the people were leaving doesn’t mean the message is. Once I finally got my cell signal back, I was amazed to see that the protest had spread worldwide. Major cities from Los Angeles to Paris to Sydney hosted sister marches where thousands of protesters voiced their opinions. Overall, this was an opportunity that is going down in history, and I will be glad to tell future generations about this experience.