Hundreds of thousands of us marched in the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. I was one of those in the crowd in Chicago at Grant Park who showed up to take a stand for women everywhere. Some called us “radicals” or “protesters.” Whatever. It is not a crime in America to stand up for our rights – to show up and to exercise my freedom of speech. It is only when you exercise your rights do you truly realize how sacred that really is. Just to be there, to witness the spectacle and to participate was remarkable. The mass of humanity in Chicago, D.C. and around the world reaffirmed my faith in the power of the people to rise up. Yes, it was remarkably American to show up and to stand up for something as basic as my rights as a woman.
I went to the march alone, intent on observing a peaceful demonstration of humans who all had their personal reason for showing up. Despite the massive crowd (and before my phone was unable to work due to the thousands simultaneously trying to text or share their experience via social media), I was able to direct my daughter-in-law, Karen and her sister and mother to my location. That in itself was some kind of miracle. I’ve never been in a crowd that large. Not that it was not scary, but rather empowering and reassuring that other women and men united to share something so American as our rights. #whyImarch was featured on the big screen and I paused to reflect what drove me to march. My reason was for women’s equality and respect and to send a message to the White House that we are watching. My march was a message that women will not be held back or worse yet, pushed back. It has taken women decades to gain our voice and I’m not about to be disrespected or told where my place is or is not. And I respect why others’ marched – even if I disagree with them. Because we live in America and are free to believe, free to speak and free to peacefully gather to disagree.
Yes, Madeline, “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I’m not going to be silent.” We can’t go back and we won’t go back. Because my children and grandchildren are counting on my voice to assure they have one.