The political climate in Washington D.C. was mixed with high emotions. From ball caps emblazoned with the slogan ‘Make America Great Again,’ proud pink ‘Pussy’ hat wearers, to the average spectator, America’s division the day before inauguration couldn’t be more stark. As protesters and inauguration-goers swamped the National Mall, both parties observed the nation’s Capital in an almost normal sense on the eve of an inauguration and the birth of a movement.
D.C. is known for being the American epicenter of political progress and birthplace of social movements and on January 21st, the city held true to its heritage. The Women’s March on Washington sent shock waves around the world as an estimated 3.5 million marchers took to the streets from Paris to Hawaii, uniting behind our shared humanity and respect for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or socioeconomic background.
Women from many generations came with the clear notion and proud battle cry – we will not go back. From those fighting for gender equality, LGBTQIA+ rights, racial justice and women’s access to reproductive healthcare; this march could not have come at a better time as the certainty of the United State’s future seems so unpredictable.
With the United States so divided and the amount of mayhem on Inauguration Day, the Women’s March on Washington peacefully brought millions of people together internationally, which is a major feat to accomplish, setting the bar for being the largest post-inauguration protest in American history. The march also made history in the fact that it produced not a single arrest despite the gravitas of police and security forces.
Now with a few days behind us, the march has been hailed as a major success, but like all social and political movements, there comes praise and critique.
This movement, from one generation to another, is about standing up for what is right by confronting sexism, racism, homophobia and defending basic human rights, especially for those who have been marginalized. It is about rejecting the role of a bystander in the face of oppression whether it be our own or the oppression of others. Last year was a build up to this moment, even apart from the presidential campaign, it is not surprising that this march was an outcome of such an unprecedented year. It is time for revolution. A revolution of change that has been a long time coming, human kindness and standing up for what is right when everyone else is telling others to just deal with it. The task now for the millions of marchers is to take action back to their communities and inspire others to do the same.
The Women’s March has already inspired dozens of intersectional marches to take place in D.C. this coming year, including the Scientists’ March on Washington, Immigrant’s March, National Pride March and more that are in the works. It goes to show that constructive marches such as the Women’s March are capable of creating unity and change in communities and connecting people in the diversity of issues that are sure to arise this year.
Written by Valerie Landowski and Kirsten Kreger
Photography Credit: Kirsten Kreger