Women’s rights are human rights
January 27, 2017
The week leading up to Saturday, January 21, was a stressful blur. Finals were to be held on Thursday and Friday and I was studying so hard I could barely see straight. I made flashcard after flashcard and reviewed again and again for all my tests. Pulling me through the week was the fact that on Saturday I would stand in solidarity with thousands of other feminists at the Women’s March in Washington D.C.
On Friday, January 20, a bus with 47 other lovely humans headed to the Women’s March on Washington. The half hour until departure time felt like an eternity for my mom, Marci French and bus/event coordinator extraordinaire, “We have to take a picture before we leave. I can’t be late. What if something goes wrong? What if we don’t make it in time?” She frantically checked and double checked our bags as she pondered whether or not everything would go as planned. Sure enough, our ride picked us up right on time and we headed to the Cannon Falls City Parking Lot where we were met with a sea of pink “Pussyhats.” For me, this was the start of the magic. Me, my mom, and fellow junior Rosemary Reardon hopped out of the car and threw on our hats to meld our pink heads with the preexisting sea of pink heads. The plan for that evening was to leave Cannon Falls at one in the afternoon and head to Rochester where we would pick up another load of feminists then drive through the night and arrive in D.C. just in time to catch a train to the march.
Arrival in Washington DC
Despite fitful sleep from most passengers, the stale bus air was filled with electricity as we came to be three hours away, then two, then one, until finally we could see a new sea of people (the vast majority with fabulously pink heads) waiting in line to buy passes so they could board the train. As soon as Rose and I jumped off the bus, we donned our rainbow pride flags as capes and joined my mom in line for a train ticket. Almost everyone had their phone out, but not to text or simply waste time, to document history in the making. Our band of three encountered two men in line who told me and Rose that we were their heroes with our pride flag capes and could he take a picture of us for Snapchat, of course we said yes.
After a gruesome 30 minute train ride, where me and Rose received quite a few compliments on our new capes, we arrived on the scene of the march. As we rode the escalators packed with marchers my mom began to chant “Yes we can!” and to my surprise, people actually joined in. This was when the magic I felt back in Cannon was reignited.
Signs and Sights
We emerged from underground to be met with a sea of feminists holding signs that read “Love Trumps Hate,” and, “This Pussy Grabs Back.” I hate large crowds, but I have never felt more welcome or more safe in a foreign place. As we merged into the masses,we joined in with the chants which ranged everywhere from, “We want a leader not a creepy tweeter,” to the women calling out “My body my rights,” and their cries being met with a chorus of men responding “Her body her rights.” It was magic. I would have cried if I wasn’t so busy trying to commit everything I was seeing to memory. The entire time we were marching and chanting, Rose and I could see people taking pictures of us and our pride flag capes out of the corner of our eyes. It was interesting to me that something that seemed so simple to us could be so inspiring to someone else.
The march spit us out right in front of the White House. And let me just say, magic galore. Me and Rose grabbed each other’s hands and swung them into the air for the perfect picture for Instagram and not only was my mom taking pictures, but everyone around us was too and once again, I had to pinch myself as a reminder of how real this actually was. I was in Washington D.C. I was wearing a pride flag on my back and a pussyhat on my head. I was right in front of the White House. And I was helping make history.
We decided we needed to head back to the train station and hop back on our bus at around 3:30 so the three of us trekked at least two miles to get back to the train station. By that point we realized how much our feet hurt and how raw our voices really were and those two (or more!) miles felt like they were uphill all the way. Once we finally got on a train, we heard estimates of 1.3 million people at the march that day, not counting the sister marches that took place on every continent, including Antarctica.
Once we had settled into our seats on the bus and snuggled into our blankets, the full impact of what just happened hit me. I was astounded. I texted my dad back in Cannon and let him know we were safely on the bus and when he asked how it went, it seemed the only suitable thing to say was, “It was a magical day,” and he responded with, “You lived it.” I scrolled through my pictures one last time in a fatal attempt to relive every moment, but eventually my eyes started drooping and I feel asleep with the sound of chants in my ears and the roar of feminism running through my head. Now I’m finally sitting in my room at 11:22 p.m. after a 19 hour bus ride and once again, I’m desperately trying to relive the Women’s March on Washington.