The event not only drew unprecedented crowds to the nation’s capital, but to cities across the country and around the world as well. Approximately three million people, men, women and children, in the US alone participated from Boston to Birmingham and Portland to Austin –that equates to roughly 1 in 100 Americans. All total, there were 673 “sister” marches across 16 countries on seven continents. It wasn’t just a massive repudiation to the well-publicized rhetoric of the Trump campaign, but also a movement to promote women’s rights and progressive ideals, such as a living wage, environmental protection and equal rights for women and other marginalized groups.
“What he has said and how he treats the women in his life is part of why it began as a woman’s march to start but neither men nor women will stand for the blatant sexism and his attitude that has been demeaning toward women,” said Napersky.
According to the organization’s website, “The Women’s March on Washington is a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds…to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination”. Hawaiian resident, Rebecca Shook who expressed her frustration with the election on social media, started the event. Shared in the Facebook group, Pantsuit Nation, the idea went viral and an official platform was created to protect safeguards for human rights and other social justice issues, including women’s rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, climate change, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights to a living wage and unionization. Donald Trump has already acted, some have argued unconstitutionally, against some of these ideals.
“There were people from all walks of life,” related Kessler. “They were all regular folks concerned about their future and our country’s future and their children and grandchildren’s future. It was just a wonderful experience with people concerned about their county and where it was going and speaking out in the most basic of ways.”
One would expect that large of a crowd, whose goals are as diametrically opposed to the current administration as they possibly could be, would have a mood of foreboding or perhaps break out into violence. But that could not have been further from reality. Out of the more than 3 million people who marched around the world the day after Donald Trump took office, not one person was arrested. According to many sources, including Napersky and Kessler, the mood was fearful but hopeful; peaceful but determined; frustrated, but patriotic in the greatest sense.
“Instead of an overwhelming situation, everyone was there in the most mellow of ways, absolutely determined but totally focused so our country doesn’t go in the wrong direction,” said Napersky.
“To be in a group of 500,000 people in DC and feel connected to every single one of them was incredible,” she continued. “When you met eyes with people, we really felt a sense of solidarity and togetherness.”
Napersky’s 16-year old niece was one of the people who felt that togetherness. She attended with her Aunts and felt hopeful and energized on the way home.
“We were hoping her to see empowered women marching together in solidarity and she saw that, and everyone marching for social justice -women and all marginalized groups,” explained Napersky. “She was moved by the whole process. She was feeling alone and now she feels empowered. “
There have been numerous criticisms of the march from the right, attacking the motivation of the marchers and the “point” of such an event. Napersky and Kessler stress that the march was not about losing an election, but rather protecting a deeper love of country and fellow man they feel is now being threatened. The sheer number of people who attended, and their varied backgrounds speak to that sentiment. Neither Napersky nor Kessler had ever been to a political rally or protest before.
“There were many people who had not done anything like this before but were compelled to get out there and do our duty as Americans,” said Napersky. “Just regular people are coming forward to speak out. His policies and rhetoric are outrageous and he needs to know that we know that.”
Those “regular” folks who had never been to a protest before seem to not only be interested in a one day protest, but rather a movement of the people, for the country they feel needs a correction to a veer in its original course. Following the march, the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington posted the “10 Actions for the first 100 Days” campaign for joint activism to keep up the momentum from the march. Community action groups have sprung up in wake of the march, and people have become involved in current affairs as never before.
“What I’m most excited about was that, on the way home, the women talked about what they’re going to do next time they were going to march,” said Napersky. “I came home to find the membership in some action groups had doubled. I have never seen in my lifetime seen this level of activism. I myself have never been this motivated to do something every single day to stop this in its tracks.”
“It doesn’t stop here,” concluded Napersky.
For more information on the Women’s March on Washington and the event’s official platform, visit www.womensmarch.com