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“Welcome to Your First Day”: Women’s March on Washington Sets the Tone for Four Years of Resistance

By Annmarie Mullen | 1/30/17 3:46pm | Updated 1/30/17 3:46pm
Jaclyn Merica/American Word Magazine

On January 21, 2017, the Women’s March on Washington gathered over half a million people of all ages, races, genders and religions on the National Mall to protest the election of Donald Trump. Trump’s election shocked and saddened a large segment of the populace due to his habit of making misogynistic and racist comments, his perceived alliance with the neo-Nazi alt-right and his alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Organized by Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland, the March intended to bring attention to several major issues, including reproduction rights, police brutality and climate change. There were additional demonstrations planned across the country and around the world. The Washington, D.C. March was originally projected to bring in around 200,000 marchers, but the numbers quickly exceeded expectations. Estimates of the final tally range from half a million to over a million. The influx of people required the original route, intended to go up Independence Avenue to the Washington Monument, to be hastily changed, causing some confusion in the crowd as it was lead one way and then another. The March ended up spreading out over about five city blocks, most of which were not planned to be shut down. The sea of signs and pink hats stood in stark contrast to the previous day’s inauguration, which is estimated to have brought in around a quarter million people. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) posted a comparison between rides and parking for the Inauguration versus rides and parking for the March on its Twitter account, confirming that the March brought in over a hundred thousand more riders than the Inauguration, often filling trains to capacity.

The majority of attendees saw the March as a positive experience, a way for them to air their grievances about the new administration amongst like-minded people. Fellow American University student Brady Tuttle, from Mike Pence’s home state of Indiana, said she has “never felt more supported by the community at large than today when I marched with over 1 million women, men, and people, all of whom wanted the same thing I did: equality.” Another protester, Maryanne Federico, a sixty-four year old from Philadelphia, told me that she’s “marching for the future of my grandchildren, who deserve to grow up in a country that cares about them.” Other protesters took to social media to discuss their issues with the March, including the unfairness of the positive media attention given to the March in comparison to the negative attention given to Black Lives Matter protests.

Only a few counter-protesters appeared at the March, as opposed to the thousands who protested the inauguration. One, a man holding a sign denouncing, amongst other things, drunks, homosexuals, fornicators, and idolaters, berated marchers as they passed by him. Later, a family of Trump supporters decked out in outfits blazoned with “deplorables” wandered through the March to little fanfare. No violence broke out; no property was damaged; no arrests were made, although this last point is likely because many of the protesters were white, shielding them from police scrutiny.

In the end, the March, though a positive experience for many, was not the end-all, be-all of protests. Those who marched cannot let it be their only action. They must show up for Black Lives Matter protests, for anti-DAPL protests, for protests against issues that may not personally affect them. They must also keep pressure on Trump and his administration, particularly as the White House has moved forward with several controversial policies, including the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The Women’s March united people across lines; now they must stay together throughout the next four years.