It was a foggy morning on Saturday, and as we were driving to D.C. , my husband and I contemplated taking the metro, but the traffic had been flowing so easily as we made our way from northern Frederick county to the Shady Grove station, that we decided it would not be necessary. And, in fact, traffic continued to move smoothly all the way until we approached our exit on the G.W. Parkway, where it quite suddenly got rough. We really should have known better considering there were over 200,000 people expected to attend the march. Already, we had spotted several groups of people dressed in pink, walking with signs. So we did what anyone who is familiar with D.C. traffic would have; we skipped around from street to street, wherever cars were moving, and eventually ended up parking in a handicapped spot near the MLK Memorial, about a mile from where we needed to be.
At about 10:30, the mall was filled with more people than I had ever seen in D.C., and the crowds were only beginning to form. Streams of people, from all walks of life, overflowed the sidewalks, moving towards the rally point on the corner Independence and Maryland, where dozens of celebrities and activists were due to speak. A truly intersectional event, people from all over came together to support women’s rights, African-American rights, LGBTQIA rights, indigenous rights and many others. When we finally arrived near the stage, Michael Moore was just finishing up a speech in which he encouraged more women to run for political office.
The next person to speak was Ashley Judd, who delivered an impassioned reading of a poem by 19-year-old Nina Donovan, which counter’s Donald Trumps “nasty woman” comment with lines like “I’m not as nasty as your own daughter being your favorite sex symbol”. After hearing two speakers, we went back down to the mall and stood in line for a couple hot cocoas, which took us about 40 min. By the time we received our beverages and started heading back, the speakers were done talking and the march was getting ready to begin. Those, like us, who couldn’t make it to the rally point through the dense crowd of people, lined the sidewalks. We managed to secure a position on the curb and stood to wait for the march to come past, so that we could all join in.
Although 200,000 people were expected, it is estimated that nearly 1 million actually showed up. Volunteers tried desperately to keep everyone from coming out into the road, however their efforts were completely lost when everyone rushed into the street as soon as the march was in sight. Moving through the mall at this point was nearly impossible. The amount of people who had showed up to support this cause was mind-blowing. The march moved along at a sloth’s pace, with people pouring in from adjacent streets and sidewalks. My husband and I managed to crab-walk sideways through the crowd to get across Independence.
We began walking back to our car, thinking we had gotten as many pictures and videos as we could, and as we waited at the last crosswalk before the parking lot, we saw the front of the march, coming back around. We stopped to watch them pass, and snap a few more pictures before going home. When the marchers got up to the MLK Memorial, half of the group began chanting “MLK” and took a detour into the Memorial. At last, we found our way back to the car and left feeling amazingly optimistic about the future. Sure, right now there are some serious things happening in the government that threaten all of our rights. But if we continue to support each other like this, I firmly believe that there is no obstacle we cannot overcome.