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Philadelphia, January 21, 2017
I consider myself to be an arm chair activist. When the Women’s March on DC was announced, I pondered participating. Having recently moved from the DC area to a small town in neighboring Pennsylvania, I thought about whether or not I could deal with having to navigate the DC metro with large crowds.
A coworker who lives near Philadelphia asked if I would be marching. I explained that I was on the fence. She told me she was planning on participating in one of the sister marches in Philadelphia and extended an invitation to stay at her house after the march so that I wouldn’t have to drive 7 hours round trip in one day.
I kept pushing off my final decision, not wanting to think about the possibility of driving in inclement weather, getting stuck in crowds, and not being able to just sit on my bed and watch the marches from afar.
Inauguration day arrived. I woke up after a not so good night’s sleep and decided I would boycott media coverage of the inauguration.
I focused on work and did not stop by the conference room at work where the inauguration was live-streamed.
At lunch time, I decided to make a trip to the campus bookstore. I wandered over to the art supply section and decided to purchase poster supplies ‘just in case.’ Just in case I decided to take my colleague up on her offer to attend the March on Philadelphia with her.
I found poster board and even flat artist canvas, markers, and even some pink glitter to give my potential posters a little bling. Rounding up supplies motivated me and I texted my colleague to say that I was still on the fence, but leaning towards attending, provided my younger son was in good health and that he would accompany me on the long drive.
My son was in good spirits and excited to hear about visiting the ‘big city.’
As soon as I arrived home, I started creating posters, one for myself and a few to share with my colleague and her friend who was going to join us. My husband helped out by drawing the lips for my poster. We ran into a minor snag when we realized we didn’t have a red Sharpie ™, but not one to be deterred, I decided to paint the lips bright red!
Fast forward to the day of the march: January 21, 2017. We arrived to the march at the tail end (around 2 p.m.) and saw many people who had marched were started to leave. Disheartened at first, my mood quickly turned around when I saw the peaceful protesters and their signs.
What struck me the most is that it was not just a fight about women’s rights–a cause that I believe in strongly, don’t get me wrong–but also about the rights of others. We saw signs in support of the LGBTQ community, Black Lives Matter, Disabled Persons, Climate Change, Latinos, Universal Healthcare, Equal Pay for Women, Pro-Choice, as well as signs denouncing Trump’s disgusting remarks about women, his bromance with Putin, and Trump’s blatant defiance and refusal to release his tax returns. Below is just a sampling of the messages I saw at the Women’s March.
The list goes on and on….It moved me to see not only women marching, but also men, children, and even dogs dressed in pink sweaters.
It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many people who share my core values–notably the one I value most,’Respect others.’ I am so glad I got off of my couch and went out to peacefully protest. (The last time I did anything remotely similar was in the late 1980’s when I covered a ‘shift’ at shantytown at Brandeis University calling on the university to divest itself of South African holdings until apartheid was dismantled.
As the product of a 1970’s childhood, I took my ‘rights’ somewhat for granted. ‘Rights’ in air quotes because I always felt that although ‘We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby’ (credit: Virginia Slims ads of the past), there was and still is always room for greater advancement of women’s rights. The new administration’s repeated attacks on women’s rights has given my feet wings–I would march again in a heartbeat in support of progressive issues.