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The Women’s March on Washington, ‘There sure was a lot of love’

The sea of pink started as a tiny trickle in Grand Rapids. By the time we hit Ohio, the pink migration grew into a steady flow toward the southeast. The closer we got to Washington D.C, the more I began to fully comprehend the significance of the event we were attending. Clouds of these hats, deemed “pussy hats” began to flood out of rest stops, tour buses, and pass us on our journey to Washington D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington. It seemed as everyone traveling on Inauguration Day was going to march tomorrow.

Arriving at the metro station and seeing a line leading out of the parking lot would usually be a sight greeted with annoyance. These crowds, however, were of politically active people and were only a fraction of what we would see that day. They were a beacon of hope. All these people were gathered together to exercise our constitutional rights. To assemble. To protest. To march.

The metro train itself was packed with women, and men, hauling handmade signs. My favorites included the ones bearing slogans such as “Rise Up!” from the musical Hamilton or, my personal favorite, “Good Girls Revolt.” An older friend’s sign read: “Now you’ve pissed off Grandma!”

Everyone chatted, packed together in the cramped train car, asking about where they were from, what brought them here, why they were marching. We managed to remain full of promise and optimism, despite enduring delays and sore legs. The camaraderie between the marchers made the train delays tolerable. We were all part of the cause, and in for the long haul. I remember thinking, nothing unites people more like fighting for their rights!

Walking off the train, up the stairs of the dark, musty station revealed a bright, colorful, electrically charged atmosphere on the streets of DC. Not even the gloomy, overcast sky would darken our exhilaration. The flood of people welcomed us into their parade of pink pussy hats. We joined them, holding our signs above our heads proudly.

I remember thinking, “For such a heavy topic, there sure is a lot of love.”

We marched, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, past a jazz band playing on the street corner, past the Washington Monument, past the Smithsonian, past the United States Capitol, marching our way to history. We listened to speakers, calling for justice for Sandra Bland, urging us to call our Senators, and Alicia Keys inspiring us to be “girls on fire.” The most powerful and impactful moment, for me, was when one of the speakers called on us to join hands with the people around us, to unite against oppression, adversity, and prejudice.

Marching again, we realized that there wasn’t only one march, but multiple groups marching through the city. On the way back, I stopped to place my sign in front of the Trump Hotel with hundreds of others and watched as two brave young women sat on the gate holding a sign reading “Sisters will crush you,” displaying a powerful message to our new president.

We walked away from the march, tired from our political activity, yet energized from the people. Still surrounded by pussy-hats, and still miraculously having kept mine on the whole time, I finally realized the magnitude of these hats. Each one, made by hand, was made to console and support victims of sexual assault. Each one was made out of love, compassion and acceptance for one another. Although we eventually had to go our separate ways we united one more time to sing:

 

Lean on me, when you’re not strong

And I’ll be your friend

I’ll help you carry on

For it won’t be long

‘Til I’m gonna need

Somebody to lean on

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