Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Call to Action: The First Million Steps

Wendy continues her series designed to translate our anger into meaningful action by highlighting those who make a difference.  Today she writes about the Women's March.

Like so many of you, on Friday I watched, and I wept.  And like so many of you, on Saturday, I marched.  Marching was a temporary antidote, a period of solidarity with like-minded Americans walking in protest and with some measure of disbelief. 

Image may contain: 12 people, crowd and outdoorThe marches across our county and the world -- the world! -- are historically unprecedented.  As we traveled together to the march on a standing room only train, one woman said, "This is great."  Yes, but it would have been even greater if this expression of outrage were unnecessary.

We -- readers of this blog -- participated from sea to shining sea.  In Washington, of course.  Women from two extraordinary organizations with which I volunteer -- Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic and Hope's Door -- drove to Washington to raise their voices and one of my nieces traveled from California to be in DC.  Tom and I marched in New York City as did many, many of our friends.  My sisters-in-law and a niece marched in California.  A friend rallied in Chicago and a friend of hers in Seattle.  And we marched in smaller cities too.  A group from Women on Watch, about whom I wrote last week, marched in Stamford, Connecticut.  A Facebook friend marched in Poughkeepsie. 

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoorMarchers carried signs, not just about women's rights, but about gay rights, racism, the environment, education.  The signs ran from the blunt to the clever, but all spoke of deep conviction. "I Stand with Planned Parenthood." "If my daughter had another 23 cents for every 77 cents she earned, she'd be my son." "Women Organized This." "A Woman's Place is in the Revolution." "Not Putin Up With This." "Nasty Women Are Watching." "I Can't Believe I Still Have to Protest This Shit." "Fight Like A Girl." "Not My President." "None of This Is Normal." "We Say Nyet." "Hate Won't Make Us Great." "Pussy Power." "I Am a Strong Woman Because A Strong Woman Raised Me." "Resist." "Girls Just Want to Have Fun-damental Rights."

The marchers were women, they were men, they were black, white, Hispanic and Muslim.  They were young, they were old.  For many, it was a mother/daughter day. So many little girls were walking with their mommies, not understanding the crowds, the noise, the very long day, but being taught, early, the importance of speaking up and speaking out.  The marchers walked with groups they supported, with their book clubs, with their churches and synagogues, with their friends, their families and some, on their own. 

And they chanted.  "This is what democracy looks like." 


Image may contain: one or more people and outdoorFor me, the most poignant moment came as we neared Trump Tower, the march almost at a standstill but electric with energy.  To my left was a little girl, maybe four years old, holding her young mother's hand and peering through the barriers at supportive onlookers.  And to my right, sandwiched amongst thousands of chanting protesters, was an elderly woman.  She had gray hair.  She wore a pink coat.  She wore a pink hat with cat ears, a "pussy hat," as they were called.  And she pushed a walker. Every step of the way.  I think she pushed it for that little girl.

Did it matter?  I believe it was an excellent start.  Trump seems to have an ability to craft his own reality, so I have no doubt we'll hear that the media has overstated the numbers of protesters, that somehow the pictures of wall-to-wall marchers in city after city were photoshopped.  But we who were there know that the streets were so crowded with angry but peaceful protesters that New York City came to a complete standstill.  And our Senators and Representatives know it too. 

Heading home on the train, a fellow traveler said to me, "It was a great day.  But it can't only be a day.  We have to keep it up."  Couldn't agree more.  Let's keep it up. 


  1. In my town, Westfield, NJ, right after the presidential election, a small group of women started a secret Facebook page to mobilize like-minded people to take action. Members invite others to join the group. The group continues to grow (including women and men). Because of the group's posts on FB, I have made several calls to our senators and our Republican congressman about a couple of key issues. Now we are talking about next steps to unseat members of our all-Republican town council and our mayor, and more importantly, to try to band with other towns in our Congressional district to unseat our Republican Congressman. He won with 54% of the vote, last November, while the largely unfunded, very young, no-name-recognition Democratic candidate garnered only 43%. I urge people in other towns to do the same. You start with a few people, who then invite other Democrats, and the group grows and grows until you have a local movement. Last Wednesday, 100 people showed up outside our congressman's office in our town and demanded that he oppose repeal of the ACA. He seemed very surprised, and then invited about 20 people into his office to talk. They told him to repair the ACA, not repeal it. He said that repeal and replace IS repair. We're not buying it. We are getting ready to bring pressure to bear. He won't know what hit him. You all can do the same. Let's take back Congress in 2018, and start now.

    1. Susana, this is a great suggestion, thank you! I truly believe that grassroots efforts such as this will be critical to the 2018 midterms and to influencing politicians as best we can in the interim. Please post updates on your group's activities -- it's motivating to read about what others are doing. I hope others will follow your example.


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