More than 2 million people across the world, led by hundreds of thousands who overwhelmed the nation’s capital, protested the first full day of President Trump’s tenure Saturday.
What began as a Facebook post by a Hawaii grandmother the day after Hillary Clinton’s loss in November’s election blossomed into a massive protest uniting people of all ages, races and religions who crowded downtown Washington. They called for a “revolution” as a bulwark against the new administration and the Republican-led Congress they fear will roll back reproductive, civil and human rights.
A five-hour rally featured speakers ranging from Ilyasah Shabazz, a daughter of Malcom X, to Sister Simone Campbell, a Catholic nun, and the music superstar Madonna. People arrived in buses or flew across country from locales as far as California to bring the main arteries of downtown Washington to a near standstill. While the event’s organizers sought to highlight many concerns, including climate change and criminal justice reform, the speakers were united in imploring the crowd to begin taking action by donating to progressive causes and even running for public office once they return home.
“Once it happens in a generation that a spirit of resistance is awakened,” said Rabbi Sharon Brous. “This is one of those moments. Our children will one day ask us ‘where were you when our country was thrust into a lion’s den of demagoguery and division,'” she said.
“The revolution starts here,” said Madonna. “It is the beginning of much-needed change,” but, “change that will require sacrifice, people, change that will require many of us to make different choices in our lives. But this is the hallmark of revolution. So my question to you today is, are you ready?” said Madonna, before entertaining the crowd with her 1988 hit song “Express Yourself.”
According to a sister march webpage, an estimated 2.6 million people took part in 673 marches in all 50 states and 32 countries, from Belarus to New Zealand — with the largest taking place in Washington.
The crowds were so large in some cities that marching was almost impossible. In Chicago, organizers halted the march and rallied at Grant Park instead as crowds swelled to 150,000, although thousands still marched. In New York City, the number was 400,000, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio; in Boston, media reported more than 100,000 people marching in Boston Common. In Oakland, Calif., police estimated that about 60,000 people took part in the women’s march. Local media reports said that San Francisco’s rally later in the day may have attracted as many as 100,000.
It was the first time Kristen Phillip of San Mateo, Calif. had attended a march. “I’m 44 and I’ve never done anything like this but I feel compelled to be here,” she said. She brought her 24-year old daughter Claire who said the San Francisco rally made her feel “powerful and hopeful.” “It makes me feel that we can get through this, if we love each other and don’t let them divide us,” she said.
Peter Monks of San Francisco, who attended with his wife and daughters, said he was showing support for women’s issues “to a president who doesn’t seem to recognize or care about them.”
“As a white guy, it’s easy to take privilege for granted,” Monks said. “It feels really important to stand up for civil society when powerful voices are lined up against it.”
In D.C., the huge crowds come a day after empty space was spotted on the National Mall ahead of Trump’s inauguration speech and bare bleachers were noticeable along the inaugural parade route.
“When you go back home, remember how you felt, that instant, that gut, that said ‘I gotta get on a bus, a train a plane,” said Tamika Mallory, a civil rights activist and march co-chair. “Be bold in the way you were bold to come here in such large numbers,” Mallory said.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: USA Today, Heidi M. Przybyla and Fredreka Schouten