Photo bt Sandy Long of the crowd at the Women's March on Washington
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Women’s March: a Once-in-a-Lifetime Moment

Photo of Coal Cracker reporter Serena Bennett by Nikki Stetson.

By Serena Bennett

 

 

 

 

The Women’s March on Washington on January 21 attracted an estimated 1 million people, and I was one of them. Standing together to support one another was one of the most surreal and exciting experiences of my life. I chose to attend the march because it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime moment and I wanted to be a part of that.

Before we got to DC, I was scared of going because I was unsure of how opponents to the march would react to it. Although most of the counter protesters would not let me take a comment and refused to give anything other than vulgar remarks, there was one man supporting President Trump who was very helpful and kind.

Different Perspectives at the Women’s March

Photo of a Trump supporter at the Women's March on Washington.

This Trump supporter at the Women’s March allowed Coal Cracker Editor Serena Bennett and her mother to take his photo, but wouldn’t give his name. Photo by Serena Bennett.

Though he decided to remain anonymous, he let my mother and I take his picture and told us that he had not meant to be here for the march; he came for the inauguration and to tour the capitol and didn’t realize the march was going on. He stood alone, holding a Trump sign and smiling, saying, “Trump loves you!’ to any insults from passing marchers. “He’s our president, and I think he’s really doing his best and we should give him a chance,” the man told us.

Chris Shaw from New Jersey also gave us some insight into why he didn’t support the march. “I support women’s rights one thousand percent but the whole feminist movement seems to be blown out of proportion, but it is an issue that holds validation. If the movement is peaceful and persistent, the meaning will prevail. Be prepared to present facts of injustices, not feelings. Because people I know are compassionate but are tired of being guilted into compliance.”

Dispelling Fear

Upon entering DC, the support and friendliness of the people attending the march was immediately apparent. Women waved at us in the car from the sidewalk before we had even parked. We always had another marcher striking up a conversation. Their acceptance of any marcher around them made my initial fear disappear.

Photo of Coal Cracker Reporter Meredith Rhoades at the Women's March on Washington.

Read Coal Cracker Reporter Meredith Rhoades’ reflection on the Women’s March.

We stood at 4th Street and Independence Avenue in the crowd of thousands, packed shoulder to shoulder for about five hours while listening to the many inspiring speeches from women such as actress America Ferrera, immigrant activist Sophie Cruz, and journalist Gloria Steinem.

However, standing in one spot for five hours is exhausting, and the crowd grew restless. Many people began the march early, while others stayed behind to listen to the rest of the speeches.  When the crowd thinned enough to be able to move, we chose to march a short distance before finding a seat to watch the marchers and the rest of the speakers.

Art Installation

At the end of the march route, there was a temporary art installment made up of thousands of handmade signs surrounding the White House. There were signs that ran from touching to comical, and it was awe-inspiring to see them all together. Days later, we found out that museums had come to collect them for future display.

While walking back to our car, we stopped to thank the sanitary workers for cleaning up the streets. One man told us that we were the neatest and most polite crowd he had ever seen. Looking back, there were not many people littering. One woman remarked that it was a shame people would leave their garbage around and proceeded to pick things up and attempt to throw it in the overflowing trash bin.

Part of History

When we came home at midnight, the news coverage on the march was still going on. Seeing the overhead view made me realize just how many people were there and hearing every news station talk about the sister marches around the world was tremendous.

Overall, the Women’s March on Washington was an amazing experience and it’s incredible to realize I was a part of history.

Top photo courtesy Sandy Long.

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