Saturday, February 18, 2017

Women's March on Washington

We are mothers. We are caregivers. We are artists. 
We are activists. 
We are entrepreneurs, doctors, leaders of industry and technology. 
Our potential is unlimited. 
We rise. 
Alicia Keys

Somehow it's been four weeks since the Women's March. As you'll see, it took a while to put this post together! There was more after the March, but I'll have to get into that in a future post. But, first things first! (And, apologies for all the typos and grammatical errors! Once a post gets long, I start losing my proof reading abilities!)

Within a couple of days of the election, I'd read that there was going to be a march on Washington D.C. ... a women's march, and I knew I had to be there. A fire had already been lit, but now? It was a rager! 

My friend Lauren called and said she wanted to go. By then I'd had a conversation with my aunt, and I had told her I really wanted to be there.  Then she asked me, "Have you ever marched on Washington?" I answered, "No." "Well," she said "You have to go."

She got together with her feminist girlfriends who'd done their share of marching and protesting, and put together a fund to help me with my plane ticket ... and I was off and running. My 94 year old grandma also pitched in, and handing me a check said "I can't go, so this is for you to go!" So cool. I felt I was marching with all these fabulous women by side! 

I had a lot of reasons I wanted to march. In the beginning it was because the there was much said during the campaign that was so misogynistic, but as time went on and I was seeing who was going to be on the president's team, I was even more determined to be involved. I could see the handwriting on the wall, so to speak, and sadly I haven't been wrong. 

Ahead of the march, the organizers asked us not to put signs on wood sticks because they can be hazardous in a crowd of people, especially when you are crammed into an area. (you don't want to accidentally poke anyone!) So, knowing I was also going to be flying to DC, I decided to head to the art store and buy a couple of yards of canvas. (4.37 a yard!) I bought stencils and acrylic paint, knowing how acrylic doesn't come off my clothes at the art studio!

There were so many different messages I could have carried but the First Amendment speaks to everything, in a way, because without that, it makes it difficult to fight for anything else. With certain people threatening the press to "shut up" and certain states now trying to pass laws that you can run over protesters and not be prosecuted ... I went with that. Also as an artist, Freedom of Speech is near and dear, and cannot be taken for granted.

So, folded the fabric in half, and I cut a slit in the top so I could throw it over my head, like a sandwich board. Then I could be hands free! On 1 side, the First Amendment to the Constitution (which took forever!) and on the other side "Why I march" ...

We found an Air Bnb in Fairfax Virginia and drove down from the Baltimore airport the night before the March. The morning of the march our Air Bnb host, Margot, drove us over to the Metro. It was the farthest stop out, so we thought we'd be ok getting on out there. We were wrong. We arrived after 9 o'clock (the rally for the march started at 10am) and there were several hundred people in a line waiting to buy metro tickets. When I say several hundred ... that's conservative, and the line wasn't moving.

We texted Margot and told her if she picked us up we'd pay parking in the city, as she was planning to march, as well. She swung around, we jumped in her little silver hybrid, and we headed into D.C.

She drove like James Bond through the traffic, all while referring to points of interest along the way! When we got into town, all of the sudden we were stuck. The light at which we were sitting kept changing. It changed 3 or 4 times, and we weren't moving! Margot jumped out and walked up to see what was going on.

They'd blocked the street off.

I thought, what in the world are we going to do?! We're stuck in the middle of a block! But, before I knew it, Margot was backing through traffic like Jason Bourne, and at one point Lauren jumped out and moved a couple of orange cones, and we then we somehow turned around in a partial T intersection (still not sure how she did all this) and we made our way down a side street. We found a meter that we weren't sure about, put the max amount possible in and started walking. I'm thinking it was about a mile but I really have no idea. I was just happy to be out of the car and on our way to the march! If we'd stayed at the metro station, we would have still been standing there, out in Fairfax!

A movement is much more than a march. 
A movement is that different space between our reality and our vision. 
Our liberation depends on all of us." 
Janet Mock
When I saw the Washington monument I started to well up. It was so emotional. We were there. We'd made it. I don't know how many times I got emotional that day, I lost count. I welled up as well, when I started seeing these masses of people on Constitution Avenue, all heading in the same direction ... holding signs, wearing little pink knit hats.

We walked along the National Mall with the Smithsonian on one side of the street, and the National Archives on the other. It was so exciting. There was this buzzing of energy that I can't explain, but it was wonderful.

At 7th street we crossed over the National Mall and we were in a sea of people. There were jumbo-trons in the distance. We could just make out who was on screen speaking, at times and there were loudspeakers that we couldn't really hear, because we were so far back. It didn't matter. It was amazing.

What some folks, us included, didn't realize at first was that we were on 7th and the actual stage was at 3rd and Independence! It was packed all the way down to 17th Street!!

In the photo above, looking toward our right, is the circular Hirshhorn Museum, and on the other side of the street, directly across from it was the National Air and Space Museum.

I was jealous of the girl in the tree! What's funny is that one of my students in Los Angeles had a picture of the same girl! We must have been right near each other! My friend Shea was by the actual stage and her in-laws were 50 feet away from her, and they never saw each other!

People were chanting at various points, and meeting the people around them from all around the country ...

That's Gloria Steinem on the jumbo tron. All of the sudden I felt like I'd gone back in time to the 60s.  Which is funny because there were a few ladies holding signs saying "I can't believe we still have to protest this shit." 

Thank you for understanding 
that sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are. 
Sometimes pressing send is not enough.
And, this also unites us with the many in this world 
who do not have computers or electricity or literacy 
but do have the same hopes and the same dreams. 

... We are linked, we are not ranked
and this is a day that will change us forever, 
each of us individually and collectively, 
will never be the same again.
~ Gloria Steinem 

At first we could only hear a few words, here and there. Then someone figured out that there was a CSPAN number you could call and hear the speeches. There was a 10 second (or so?) delay but occasionally we'd get a phone signal and hold up our phones on speaker and then we'd crowd around each others smart phones to listen!

I love this photo ... 

This awesome little girl, Sofie Cruz, was a powerhouse.

These two college girls were so sweet. We had our little group that we ended up hanging out with for a while. They had better vision and also knew who some of the younger speakers were, so they'd tell us who was on the screen!

Don't get frustrated, get involved.
Don't complain, 
~Maryum Ali

This older lady was so cute, and so proud of her sign.

This sweet girl had made homemade anti-white supremacy buttons which she gave to Lauren and me.

This girl, below, was super sweet too. I have my picture with her draped in her American flag. Loved her sign with Rizzo from Grease though!

We also hung out with this awesome lady, Deborah. She's holding a photo of her with her 92 year old mother who knitted her hat for her, for the march. 

This is Chloe and ... Jim? Ugh, my brain. I think that was his name. Anyway, they'd come down on a bus from New York. He was leading some of the chants and at one point she was on his shoulders taking pictures with every one's camera phones. His throat was sore, possibly from all the yelling and before you knew it, everyone knew about it and all these throat lozenges were being passed forward to him until his pockets were full! 

People were also passing out granola bars, asking if anyone needed Advil, band aids, whatever ... it was amazing.

These are clips from my iPhone! Unfortunately, I edited it in Instagram so its very short! You'll see this couple at the end ... and probably here my voice!

My friend Caroline called me a few days before we left for the march and said her friend had knitted some extra hats and would love for them to go to Washington! So Sweet! I picked up three, one for Lauren, one for me, and one for someone that I didn't know yet. I put the hat in my pocket and figured I'd know when I met them.

The "Them" was Stacy. She asked where I'd gotten my hat and I told her a friend knitted it. Her daughter said "Oh gosh the whole day, my mom keeps asking, because she's dying for one of those hats!" I reached in my pocket and pulled out the 3rd hat, smiled and handed it to her. She lit up like a Christmas Tree! I don't think I've ever seen someone so thrilled about anything! She was almost in tears ... So I was almost in tears! 

When it gets hard to love, Love Harder!
When it gets hard, Love Harder!
~Van Jones 

If we-- the millions of Americans 
who believe in common decency, 
in the greater good,
in justice for  -- 
if we fall into the trap by separating ourselves 
by our causes and our labels, 
then we will weaken our fight and we will lose.
But if we commit to what aligns us, 
if we stand together steadfast and determined,
then we stand a chance 
of saving the soul of our country.
~American Ferrera

O.K. so here I am in a rare moment with enough space around me to get the front of my sign!

Lauren and I in our matching hats! :)

This was one of the incredible artists, Angélique Kidjo, who performed at the march. I faintly hear her in the distance as we started to move ...

This guy, who was next to us for a few minutes, was a total sweetie and in his pink hat ... :)

So, after standing in almost the same spot for 4 hours, people started chanting "march! march! march!" There were still people speaking! Finally someone with phone reception found out that the Associated Press had said there were too many people to use the planned march route! Originally they were expecting a couple hundred thousand, then the number kept climbing. By the day of the march, some people were estimating there was between a half million to a million.

I think later they were saying 800,000. The thing is that they didn't allow anyone to fly over and the parks service looked at the National Mall, but only a fraction of us ended up on the Mall. Thousands Marched in all different directions, once we knew everyone could go the same route.

Like I said, there were still speeches going (for more than another hour) when we, at 7th street, started filing out.

Madonna was one of the later speakers. OF COURSE, with all the many many speakers that day, certain news media outlets, took half a sentence out of her speech and went crazy with it.

She began with her speech with "Welcome to the Love Revolution!" I'm wasn't a fan of the cussing she did but certain commentators, like I said, took a fragment of thought out of context, not saying where she went with it.

"Yes, I've thought about an awful lot about blowing up the White House, but I know this won't change anything. We cannot fall into despair. As the poet UH Auden once wrote on the eve of WWII 'We must love one another or die.'" 
Then she said "I CHOOSE LOVE!! Are you with me?! Say this with me! WE CHOOSE LOVE!" (audience yelled back repeating We choose love!) Then repeating her again and again ...

So, our big block of people started heading down the side street by the Smithsonian.

When the Women's March was first mentioned, we thought it was going to be on the National Mall, but we couldn't get the permit ... but see the Capitol Building in the distance, below?

Yep, thousands of us ended up on the National Mall anyway! There were so many of us and we'd been right up against each other for more than four hours ... it was so great to find space! And being on the National Mall was ... thrilling!

I might have gotten a little over excited. I was yelling something about Freedom of Speech. See the Washington Monument behind me??

In the bottom left corner of the photo below is Margot (aka James Bond/Jason Bourne, our awesome Air Bnb host!) along with Deborah and Chloe and Jim. (?)

As you can see more and more people pouring into that area ...

Collectively, we will stand up 
for the most marginalized among us,
 because they are us. 
We will not wait for some magical being
to rise up and save us. 
We are not helpless.
We are the ones we have been waiting for. 
We are who we need.
~Carmen Perez

And then we were packed like sardines again near the Washington Monument. More chanting and singing. 

At one point we were singing This Land is Your Land, lead by Margot who, as it turns out, has a powerhouse voice and sings in the church choir across from the Capitol!

In America no on is powerless 
when we come together.
No one can make us feel invisible 
when we demand to be seen!
~Amanda Nguyen





~Rabbi Sharon Brous

I'm not sure where these women were, in this video below. I saw it later online. Apparently, they practiced online together and never met until that day!

My favorite photo ... "All you need is Love."

Then we made our way through to the other side of the Mall, past the African American Museum and up 14th Street ....

And we actually started marching!

I am my sister's keeper.
~Janet Mock

We are an uprising of love!
Choose it every day!
~J. Bob Alotta

Above, there's Harriet Tubman on the Department of the Treasury!

I loved this guy. He was so awesome, leading chants in his hot pink hat!

There was another chant going on in the distance, and we could hear "BOOOOO" and then "Yaaaayyyyy!" and then "Booooo" and so on. When we got up close, there was this hilarious guy with a huge sign. On one side it was Putin, and the other side, Martin Luther King Junior. So he'd hold up Putin to which the marchers would yell "BOOOOOOOO!" and then he'd turn it around and everyone would then yell "Yaaaayyyyyy" as loud as they could!

Needless to say, I started losing my voice.

It was incredible marching but then ... all of the sudden it was 4:30 and we got hungry for something other than protein bars. 

So, we headed West on H Street, a couple of blocks North of the White House (with hundreds of others) and walked a couple blocks, and there was a whole other mass of thousands going up that street! There were so many hundreds of thousands we had just broken into several marches. It was unbelievable. 

Click Here   for a link to some amazing photos from the Marches around the world that day.

And here's a video with some pics around the world. My friend's daughter marched in 20 below in Fairbanks, Alaska!

Anyway, still on a mission for food, we walked past that march and a couple of more blocks over to 18th Street. If we waited until everyone was done marching we would pass out, and also never get a table but Lauren peaked in a window and saw an open table in a restaurant! We ran and they seated us. We were so focused on getting off our feet, we hadn't noticed how nice the place was! 

Anyway, we decided to order a drink and tapas off the appetizer menu at Taberna del Alabardero and ended up sitting there for two hours, texting with our families, and trying to find friends we hadn't been able to find. (We both knew so many people who'd flown to D.C. - and no, they weren't paid!) Anyway, there were other marchers in the swanky place, so we weren't alone!

Lauren with her glass of white wine, and me with my Scotch. They were a bit short staffed so they didn't seem to mind us sitting there for a while!

As we sat there thinking about the day and I started welling up again, as I told Lauren that it was one of the most memorable days of my life. And, it's true. It was beyond expectations, and it was beautiful.

I'm so grateful to all the women who consciously passed the torch and supported the vision.

Thank you!

The energy and women of the march, have given me hope. When I get bummed or stressed about what's happening, I remember. It hasn't ended. We are still on it. We are writing, calling, faxing, petitioning, doing outreach, teaching others, and we won't give up working toward a more perfect union, equal rights, equal justice, a cleaner planet, and the protection of our freedoms.

And I feel an art project coming on ...

All quotes in this post were from speeches in D.C. on January 21, 2017 at the Women's March on Washington.

Thank you PK, Shannon and Caroline, Shea and Lauren!

Thanks again to torch passers 
Patty, Stephanie,
Kim, Kristine,
Rita and Penny
and my 95 year old Grandma
who wanted to be there! 
You were all there with us, in spirit!

The Women's March website can be found here.

Continue to embrace the things that make you unique
even if it makes others uncomfortable.
You are enough.
And whenever you're feeling doubt, 
whenever you want to give up,
you must always remember
to choose freedom
over fear.
~Janelle Monae

Blessings and light!