I’m back! I haven’t written in ages. I haven’t written in ages because, pretty much since November 9, I’ve been, well, despondent. I really haven’t had the energy to write much. But I’m writing now. I’m writing now because there was the Women’s March on Saturday. And it was important.
A dear friend and colleague has been telling me lately that marches aren’t what get things accomplished anymore. I understand what he means. This isn’t 1964, and we aren’t going to bend the will of politicians these days by marching. No, these days, politicians are putting party politics well above their actual jobs and what’s best for the nation, and they aren’t going to be moved by millions of marchers. But that’s not why we marched.
This is what the march did. It energized us for the work. Official estimates for Washington DC were 500,000. I’ve seen marches of half a million people before. This was more. WAY more. There were so many people that the official march never actually got started. The march was the non-stop walking to and from the rally points, and walking to the metro to leave. Swarms and swarms of people filling the streets all around downtown.
Now, I’ve been attending marches since 1968, when I picketed Gracie Mansion in New York City with my parents and their colleagues during the New York City teachers’ strike. I’ve had non-violence training, and I’ve been a marshall at a few marches, too. This march was remarkable.
This was the most respectful march I’ve ever been to. Sure, there were outside agitators who were attempting to make trouble. But the folks who came to the march just refused to engage them. At all. They were left to their bizarre ranting on the sidelines while people from all over engaged with each other.
This was the first time that I really noticed the intersectionality at a march. It was intentional and it was important. There were signs in multiple languages. Marchers engaged with one another – and not just the people they came with. People were talking to people they didn’t know and helping each other out. And people were listening to one another.
Chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “We want a leader/Not a creepy tweeter,” and many others didn’t so much compete with one another as they did flow into one another.
I ran into people who said they felt ashamed at how much they’d taken for granted before the election. People who said that they’d felt despondent but now were feeling energized and ready to get to work. People who were committing to calling their elected officials regularly. People who were ready to dig in.
And this was just the march in Washington, D.C. There were marches all across the U.S. and on all seven continents (yes, there was even a march on Antarctica). People are mobilized. It would have been good to have this energy before November 8, but we do have it now.
The point of this was not that it’s one and done. The point is that the beast has awakened. This was just our grand entrance. We’re coming. And we who believe in freedom will not rest.
That’s my mite. That’s all I’ve got.