Collaboration: Our Favorite Moments: Women’s March on Washington
It’s hard to pick just one moment from this experience so I’m going to share something that I witnessed all day. People being polite. There were hundreds of thousands of people crowded into these streets where you had no choice but to step on toes and heels and bump into one another. I heard more people apologizing and excusing themselves while squeezing themselves through the masses or just merely standing still. We were in a situation that assumes you will be uncomfortably close and people were still being polite. It kept those crowds bearable and kept me smiling all day.
There was so much I took away from this day. The anxiety that lifted from me when I realized we are not alone and that we don’t just live in this tiny bubble of acceptance here in Birmingham. The whole world marched with us and that was a beautiful thing to witness. Millions of people from around the world made their voices heard that day and I was fortunate enough to be at the epicenter of it all. There aren’t enough words for what that feels like. It was peaceful. It was inspirational. It is a moment of pride I will carry for the rest of my life.
I will never forget my excitement while walking from the bus to the rally location in DC. It was a 2 mile walk and at first it seemed like we would never get there. Then we finally hit a point in the walk where we could hear the chanting and joyful cheering in the distance. It was at that point that the adrenaline kicked in and I just couldn’t get there fast enough. The noise got closer and we were suddenly in a larger crowd of people, all of us heading towards the same destination.
And then we crested that hill. The street in front of us was jam packed and it seemed to go on for miles. It was at that moment that I realized the magnitude of this thing and I immediately started crying behind my oversized sunglasses. I had to stop for a second to just take it all in. I had never witnessed anything like this before and it was at that moment that a fire was lit within me. I took my picture (please excuse the poor quality photo) and continued marching forward towards the sea people. I’m getting chills all over again just writing about that moment. I hope that feeling I had at the top of that hill never dies.
So many special moments at the Women’s March on Washington. I felt so much love from friends, acquaintances, and strangers. It was a truly uplifting experience. One of my favorite moments was as we were walking up, getting closer to the march site. As we came over a slight hill, collectively we all heard a rumble that almost sounded like faint, yet loud static. It was the powerful roar of the crowd that was still several blocks away from us! Jackie, who was walking in front of us, turned and smiled with the excitement in her eyes of a child. I knew exactly how she felt.
My fondest memories of the Women’s March in D.C. all point back to the sense of community that was so powerful and beautiful. I first felt that community among my fellow travelers on my bus. We shared stories, snacks, drinks, to name a few things. I made new friends and got to know old ones even better. Even as we departed the bus and were submerged by the crowds, our sense of fellowship stayed strong. I felt the spirit of “no one left behind” as we made sure to keep up with each other and find safe spaces to regroup. I feel like we shared a bond like no other that I will cherish forever.
I also felt a larger sense of community as I was surrounded by droves of people from all walks of life. The evidence of intersectional feminism was right there. This march brought together diverse racial, class, and sexual identities as well as those young and old, able bodied and disabled. All with unique experiences from each other but coming together under the banner of lifting women’s voices and fighting oppression, inequality, and hate. I felt uplifted being among about 500,000 people who refuse to say “I’m not a feminist, but…” yet rather shout “I am a feminist, and….”
There were so many favorite moments, from the people greeting us in their front yards on our walk from the bus to the march, to the looks of excitement and surprise on people’s faces when they’d see we were from Alabama. We were treated like rock stars in D.C. But, I think my favorite moment was as the crowd was dispersing out of the National Mall and started marching down Pennsylvania Avenue we found a small ledge to sit on. All 15 of us were exhausted having been on a bus for 15 hours, little to no sleep, then walked for miles and stood for hours and we finally found a place where we could sit for the first time that day. A collective sigh broke out and we laughed at how good it felt to sit down when I got a text message from my husband showing me the crowd from the Birmingham march. I pulled the picture up and one by one made my way down the ledge saying “Look at Birmingham!” and we all cheered. It was the second wind I needed to keep going.
I listened to the sweet sounds of Duke Ellington as the bus curled through the sleeping southern cities, gently curving its way into Washington, D.C. Driving through the foggy VirginIa daybreak, I counted buses as we headed into the District of Columbia. I sleepily lost count at 20 but found out later that over 11,000 people traveled by bus to attend the march. These buses were full of like-minded individuals who were ready to join the resistance.
There were 55 of us in the bus and we were full of restless energy. We each had our own reasons for making the trip and were united in our message. We were ready to head into the mouth of the beast.
They expected 200,000. Over 500,000 showed. In fact, so many people showed that the official march was called off. Our snakelike string of 10 women wove through the crowd slowly, holding hands, coats or scarves in an effort to stay together. We marched next to sisters and brothers from all over the world, each with their own message and concerns. We, the people, marched peacefully with pro-lifers through the streets of D.C. I marched with thousands because I believe in a future where people can live on their own terms, free of regulations on their body and personal decisions.
For those of you who don’t understand or want to call me a crybaby, I marched for you, too. If you can watch an estimated 3 million people take to the streets in what is now called the largest protest in US history and still say we need to get over it, might I suggest that is you who is living in a bubble. In fact, if you aren’t horrified and ready to take action yourself, you simply aren’t paying attention.
To me, the march signified love. I love you no matter what. I will fight for you no matter what. I believe you should have the right to choose what to do with your body. I believe you have a right to clean water. I believe you should be able to make your own decisions without government involvement. I love you even if you don’t understand what the bigger picture is. Love is love is love. Love your neighbor as yourself. When we stand together as one we become the resistance and that, is when we become unstoppable.
My favorite moment of the march was walking to and from the march. On the way in, D.C. residents came out of their house clapping and thanking us for coming. I loved the big smiles they gave us when they heard we were from Alabama. As we were leaving, a woman held up a Thank You banner and a man gave us homemade cookies. The fact that 300,000 more people showed up than expected didn’t faze D.C. residents at all. They opened their city and hearts to all in unity and it was amazing.
One moment? The entire experience was life-changing, I find it difficult to choose! After a long bus ride that departed Birmingham, AL at 6 PM Friday evening, we finally pulled into the RFK Stadium Parking Lot around 8:30 AM. Everyone was eager to get off the bus, some excited to meet friends, and others were anticipating the excitement of a new adventure for a cause they held dear. I don’t think any of us knew what to expect, and that was just as exciting as the event itself. My group of marchers decided to navigate our way to Folger Park, a designated meeting spot for folks arriving from Birmingham, AL. Along the way it was like being a participant in a Mardi Gras Parade, sans the beads. Residents of the area along our route, and even motorists, were so welcoming. Waves, cheers, and horns honking kept us energized as we made our way to the park. We made our first pit stop at the first warming station on our route. Since we arrived a little later than anticipated, we decided to nix our trip to the park.
Honestly, I can’t recall my feelings at this point. Thankfully at our first stop we had run into some familiar faces, which gave me a sense of peace, and put me at ease. At this point we had no idea what to expect…. no idea. We mapped out our route toward Independence Ave and SW Third St, and off we went. Where we entered the gates and barricades, the streets were empty, it was anti-climactic. There were no bag checks, and just a few people lingering so it was easy for our group to move forward. Finally, we spotted the crowd, but from where we were located it felt eerily silent. Then, it hit me with a jolt, there was a vibratory force that pervaded my body with an intensity I can’t articulate. I could feel it before I heard it, and it brought me to tears. We had arrived, and this was only the beginning of our journey.
This was one in many of my favorite, and pivotal moments. As I mentioned, there were many more prior to, during, and even after the march that have and still are affecting my life today. I’m grateful for how it all unfolded and thankful for the opportunity.