Melanie Sayarath ’17
I attended the Women’s March on D.C. on a whim. Naturally hesitant about attending most events that require heavy planning, it was serendipitous that I was able find a way to D.C on such short notice. In the days leading up to the march, bus, train and plane tickets to D.C .were hard to come by. Hotels and Airbnbs across the city were booked, and people were relying on hitchhiking and ridesharing apps to find a way to the capitol.
The day before the inauguration, I was on Facebook when I received an invitation to join a private but very large group of alumnae and current students of the Seven Sisters Colleges who planned to march on Washington together. I jumped at the opportunity to attend and was able to find a ride to D.C. with someone from the group.
When I arrived in DC on Jan. 20, the lines for the metro reached out of the doors of Union Station. At the time I presumed there were as many people in D.C. for the inauguration as there were for the March, but that thought was quickly abandoned when I opened my phone to find my Instagram and Facebook newsfeeds covered in posts comparing the very large turnout of President Obama’s 2009 inauguration and that of President Trump’s. Later Trump would insist the numbers were far greater than they actually were.
When I stepped outside the station, the street was packed with cars and sirens could be heard across the city. There was a fire in the street earlier in the day. A mutual friend of mine explained that someone had set fire to a car on the street in some sort of rally of protest and she witnessed the police teargasing protestors. Apparently she was in the action of it.
The day of the protest, the sky was grey, and protestors took to the streets as early as a 7a.m. The march was scheduled to begin at 1:15p.m. at the intersection of Independence Ave and 3rd Street, but due to the large crowd of people and excitement surrounding the group of speakers and performers scheduled to make appearances, the streets were congested well into the late afternoon and the march was delayed. The heavy congestion of the concentrated area of the city in which the march was held led to unreliable, incredibly slow cell service. Coordinating to meet people was difficult, but nobody seemed too affected by it. Strangers gathered in groups holding signs and participating in chants until they found their groups.
Janelle Monae, Ashley Judd, America Ferrera, Angela Davis, and Gloria Steinem ’56 are some of the many people who spoke. Across D.C. protestors wore pink, crocheted “pussyhats” in response to Trump’s infamous “grab them by the pussy” remark. The diversity of the crowd reflected the support of the advocacy and resistance movements that the Women’s March supported and the spirit of democracy that should honor the intersecting identities of the American people.
The Women’s March on D.C. drew a crowd of over half a million people. Across the U.S. and around the world, it is estimated that over 5 million people participated in solidarity marches. Standing in solidarity against the rhetoric of intolerance championed throughout the 2016 presidential election of Trump, attendees of the March rallied to protect legislation and policies regarding human rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, the environment, racial equality, freedom of religion and workers’ rights. This counter-inauguration of Trump is said to be the largest protest attended worldwide and the most shared event in the history of Facebook. It has fostered the creation of 100 days of resistance and sparked a new set of protests to oppose everything the administration plans to present in the coming four years of Trump’s presidency.
Within a week of being inaugurated into office, President Donald Trump has signed a series of executive orders that will inevitably affect the discourse of the next 100 years in America. He has defunded sanctuary cities, reinstated the Mexico City policy, withdrawn the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, renewed the process for construction of the Keystone pipeline, put a government freeze on regulations, directed the State Department to stop issuing visas to Syrian nationals, blocked immigrants and visa holders from Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Iran and expanded the U.S military among other things. The next four years will surely be a test of the strength of democracy and the unity of the American people.