An estimated 500,000+ people marched in Washington D.C – part of the 4.1 million people participating worldwide – to send a message: women’s rights are human rights and we stand together.
So… How Was It?
Good? Amazing? Incredible? What words could possibly do this experience justice? (Sounds familiar, eh?) We’ve learned to dread this question as international educators and international program alumni. How do you begin to express the gravity, the impact, the energy? All we can do is try. It was big. It was HUGE. It was a perfect demonstration of democracy in action.
This is What Democracy Looks Like
“Show them what democracy looks like. THIS is what democracy looks like.”
“No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here.”
“Love, not hate, makes America great.”
Chants of support, solidarity, and empathy rang out as we moved from 4th and Independence towards Pennsylvania Avenue en route to the White House. We felt the sheer energy of the crowd and the magnitude of this event and our place in history every time our feet connected with the ground beneath us.
We traded buttons, stickers, and powerful messages with people around us in the crowd. We took photos of everyone’s signs and the truths they chose to share with us. Signs in every size, shape, color, and language surrounded us in every direction. Even as people got tired, even as people got restless and maybe even a little bit hangry, all we could feel was love.
Bleachers still set up from the inauguration the day before were repurposed and completely full of supporters cheering us on— and eventually marchers taking a rest in between chants. It was all you could do not to cry (even though we definitely cried… some more than others *cough* Erin *cough*).
The march may only be one moment in history, but this is a movement, one we’re proud to be a part of, and it’s only just begun.
This is What Democracy Sounds Like
Here are a few powerful quotes from the speakers at the rally for the Women’s March on Washington to inspire you!
“We are America. And we are here to stay. We will not go from being a nation of immigrants to a nation of ignorance.” – America Ferrera
“We are here and around the world for a deep democracy that says we will not be quiet, we will not be controlled, we will work for a world in which all countries are connected. God may be in the details, but the goddess is in connections. We are at one with each other, we are looking at each other, not up.” – Gloria Steinem
“We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages.” – Angela Davis
“Say yes to be willing to put yourself on the line. It is that simple. The next thing on your to-do list: You have to run for office. You, yes, you.” – Michael Moore
“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
“Don’t get frustrated, get involved. Don’t complain, organize.” – Maryum Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter
Today We March. Tomorrow We Work.
That’s the long and short of it folks. The work has only just begun. We’re frustrated, but we’re getting involved. We’re not complaining, we’re organizing. And we’re starting with us— with international education, with our field, our workplaces, and our participants. It might just seem like a drop in a bucket, but it still makes ripples.
The empowerment hangover hasn’t quite kicked in yet, we might still be a little drunk on the Women’s March on Washington and everything it meant to our team and to women and men around the world. Our feet are a little sore and our legs are a little stiff, but it’s nothing we can’t handle because we are strong.
Now we’re back in the RV and headed back home to get to work!