Photos by Erin Schaff
Hundreds of thousands march for equal rights on Washington and across the world.
In an atmosphere that can only be described as electric, massive crowds of women and men of all ages and color swarmed the National Mall on Saturday January 21 to celebrate freedom and denounce hate, just a day after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
Race, gender, religion and political views aside, the Women’s March of Washington, and in cities across the country and world, were about the fellowship between humans and the simple notion that all individuals are equal. A slew of signage ranging in sentiment from comical to profound represented the varying agendas of the marchers. Some centered on threats to reproductive rights (“Don’t Throw Shade on my Roe v. Wade”) while others addressed Trump’s plan to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act (“Keep Your Tiny Hands Off my Healthcare”), the Black Lives Matter movement and equal pay. Although the protests were peaceful and optimistic, marchers took the opportunity to take direct digs at Trump: “We Shall Overcomb,” “I’ve Seen Sturdier Cabinets at IKEA,” and “There will be Hell Toupee,” to name a few.
Whatever the cause, the strong showing was an undeniable display of democracy in motion after a divisive election. Actress America Ferrara addressed the march: “But the president is not America,” she said. “We are America.” Other supporters from government and Hollywood rallied the massive groups to keep defending America’s most fundamental rights. Big names like Ashley Judd, Madonna and Gloria Steinem spoke fervently about rising up to make their voices heard. Judd was praised for her raw, uncensored speech which in large part, quoted 19 year old Nina Donovan‘s spoken word poem. The message was anchored by Trump’s early comments that his opponent Hillary Clinton was a “nasty woman,” which feminists have since spun into a positive trait. Judd channeled Donovan: “I am not as nasty as a swastika painted on a pride flag” and went on to say “I AM nasty like Susan, Elizabeth, Eleanor, Amelia, Rosa, Gloria, Condoleezza, Sonya, Malala, Michelle, Hillary.” To the surprise of news agencies publicly broadcasting the march, Madonna used expletives to express her disdain for the new administration “The revolution starts here… the fight for the right to be free, to be who we are, to be equal.”
The way forward for activists is unclear, but the march proved an inspiring start to a movement that favors the very fabric of democracy: equality.