This past Saturday I, along with 50,000 other people, were part of the Philadelphia Women's March. I thought I would share my experience with you all. All photos shared here are from the Philly March and were either taken by me are by my cousin Patti.
I headed down to my cousin's house late Friday night after work. We are lucky that Patti lives a train ride away from Philly and were able to sleep until about 630am to head to the march. As we arrived at that train station, we began to watch other groups of women show up and just standing there I felt a strong sense of pride that lasted me throughout the day. The women I saw were both young and old and as we boarded the train, there were smiles all around. There were a great many stops in between us and Philly and at each stop more and more protesters joined the train carrying posters, decked out in hats, pins and shirts all showing their solidarity. Some people even got cheers for their shirts. It was a happy, peaceful hum on the train.
The march start point was a sight to see. All of the creative signs and everyone was seriously polite. My coworker/friend was somewhere in the crowd and we said we would try to meetup but both of us seriously doubted it with such a massive crowd. And P.S. Patti and I are TNW (Tiny Nasty Women) making this task even more difficult. The signs became more useful than street signs to find on another. What was so amazing though was the crowd let people pass. Simple "excuse me" or "pardon me" was all that was needed to get through. People would part for you. And as anyone who has been in a Philly crowd before that was truly shocking. Because of this we were able to find each other fairly quickly.
There were without a doubt far more people in attendance than they were prepared for, which was the theme around the country. From what I read from the predictions, they were prepared for 20-30k but 50k+ that showed. Because of this the march took a bit for everyone to actually get moving. We were stationed at what looked to be towards the front and we didn't move for a good 20 or so minutes after the march was supposed to start. Once we were moving there were people on the sidelines and in the middle partitions cheering us on which was wonderful. The march route was shorter than we had imaged and when we got to the end we were unable to hear the speakers. As previously said, they clearly were not ready for the vast number of us and most of the speakers did not seem like they had been to a rally before. The only speaker I heard throughout their speech was the CEO of Planned Parenthood. She clearly was used to outdoor public speaking and this greatly helped. When making our way out of the crowd at the end, the Women's March was joined by a Pride March and a Black Lives Matter March. And we were pumped! I quickly got out of the way(we were walking towards them) and starting cheering them on. I will say that those two marches had their chants DOWN. They were smaller groups and were able to keep their chants going throughout and holy hell did they have energy!
After the March, what surprised me the most was the amount of "thank you"s I got on social media, through text and in person. I was slightly overwhelmed but in a good way. What I also received was a small backlash from one person. I was honestly surprised that only one person said something negative towards me about the march.
What I was happily surprised at was some of my coworkers responses. There were a couple people who voted for Trump who were very positive about the March and asked me how it went and were specifically interested in the signs. I had initially been worried that I would have a very comfortable interaction with someone at work but everyone was very positive. That, to me, is part of what makes America great. We don't have to see eye to eye on everything but the ability to have calm discussions, that do not lead to name calling, is something that this country at it's best has fostered.
Not a single arrest was made at any of the Women's Marches. I never doubted for a moment that the marchers would be non-violent. Women's marches and rallies have a history of the protesters being nonviolent in the US, even when attacked by the people on the sidewalks or police. That was my main concern for the protesters across the country. But my experience in Philly was that everyone was helpful, supportive and polite. We were met with smiles from everyone, police included. **Note: I believe that the majority of the police in this country are honest, decent people and that there are bad apples that do more than give police a bad name, they get the ones who do their jobs without prejudice, killed. I recognize that may be my privilege talking**
Why I Marched
|This is why Unicorns are my favorite animal of all time!|
I marched to protesting the defunding of women's organizations, ones that cover both our health and those that work to protect women and children from abuse. I marched to stop the defunding of public schools. I marched to stand in solidarity with people of color, those with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and those who choose or do not choose to practice a religion. I stand against fear mongering and hateful language. My hope is that these marches have woken our representatives and senators up to the fact that we will not sit ideally by as they try to take away all that we have fought for. (We want our fully covered mammograms, birth control, and annual checkups back!) We are their employers and they work for us. And if this many people showed up to rally, imagine how many will show up to vote them out of office. And they do not have the luxury of an electoral college to save them.
Moving Forward and What We All Can Do
Since the March I have taken my friend Lauren's suggestion and joined NOW and am in the stages of starting a chapter in NEPA. I have emailed my government officials and I will be attending a letter writing party held by a fellow member of my feminist group. Writing a letter/email or calling your government representatives may seem like a small act but they do make a difference and it's something that even the busiest of people can do. For those that have more time, look into your local area and find non-profits that you believe in and volunteer your time. Look for local candidates and political campaigns that you identify with and support them in whatever way(s) you can. If you have the monetary resources look into non-profits at the local, state and federal level and donate to them, even if it's just $10. And most of all keep yourself aware of what is going on. Read factual information, even if you have to go out of your way to find it. We are all in this together.
The title of this blog post is from a song "Bread and Roses" about the 1912 strike. You can listen to it here.