What an exhilarating day! The Women’s March on NYC exceeded my expectations by miles. I hadn’t been to a protest march in fifty years and hardly knew what to expect, but this march was phenomenal.
As soon as George and I got off the train in Grand Central we sensed the extra energy in Manhattan. We saw women in pink hats carrying signs and banners. We knew we were in for a great day. Approaching 47th Street and Second Avenue we threaded into a throng of excited, energized people. A ragtag brass band of tuba, trombone, and drums pulled us along onto Second Avenue where people were so tight, shoulder to shoulder, we were barely moving as we merged with crowds coming from the east and north. Smiles and looks of determination surrounded us. Thousands of hand-made signs bobbed in the air.
Happy, friendly, energized Americans jammed the avenue. Young people, parents with infants, seniors, people in wheelchairs, Muslims, Asians, blacks, whites, gays, and straights made their way along the route. Women were the intended primary focus of this march, but there were throngs of men, as well.
PROTEST SIGNS GALORE
George and I had brought a sign promoting Equality, Fairness, and Tolerance, but the others signs ranged from obscene to hilarious – many of them championing women’s rights, but far more expressing outrage at the new administration in DC. “NYET, TRUMP!”, “IKEA has better cabinets!”, “UNFIT”, “WE REJECT PUTIN’S BITCH”, "A WOMAN’S PLACE IS IN YOUR FACE”, “KEEP YOUR TINY HANDS OFF MY RIGHTS”, “TRUTH NOT TWEETS”, and on and on. One of my favorites was “FREE MELANIA”, which for some reason struck me as hysterically funny. But perhaps the best was “Can we just admit we have taken this ‘anyone can grow up to be president’ thing just a bit too far?”
George and I marched—walked, stumbled, or inched along would be more accurate—for four and a half hours, and I was smiling the entire way. What a joy to be in this energetic, creative crowd.
All along the route protest chants rang out, but my favorite was “TELL ME WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!--THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!” shouted again and again and followed by a huge whooping cheer. All afternoon at regular intervals we heard from behind us a deafening roar of cheering voices, a wave that made its way to us and in which we joined. The sound of thousands and thousands of defiant cries and whistles resonated through the streets of Manhattan all day long.
On the sidelines people were standing on bollards or shinnying up light poles to get a better view of the crowd. People were hanging from building scaffolding cheering us on. Many others just stood and took photos of the marchers. But up in the windows we spotted a brown-skinned woman cleaning office windows; she waved her bright blue cleaning rag at us. And we waved back. Dark-skinned porters at the windows of a luxury hotel smiled and gave us thumbs up and waved, and we waved back. Children and mothers and apartment dwellers hung signs out their windows and waved, and we waved back. “We are all in this together,” I said to the woman next to me. She smiled and agreed.
To be part of this throng of half a million people was utterly exhilarating and empowering. As one sign declared, “This is not a moment, this is a Movement,” an expression of hope, a pledge of continued resistance to threats on our human rights. I was so proud to be a part of this extraordinary event, and, moving forward, to be carrying a banner for decency.