Elizabeth Meyer is not an organizer. She lives in Central New Jersey and organized a march closer to home, rather than drive her daughters to Washington, DC. Word went out among organizations in the community and the sponsorships began rolling in. It was one of more than 600 sister marches all across the country and around the world and organizers expected a turnout of perhaps 1,500 people. What they got was about 10,000 people, taking to the streets to let legislators, locally and nationally, know that the progress we’ve made over the past several decades will continue moving forward.
I got up super early on that gray Saturday morning of January 21. I coffeed, showered, and picked up my friend Jen to go to the March. Fortunately, we arrived just in time to get one of the final few parking spaces close to the Patriot’s Theatre, at the Trenton War Memorial, where people were already wrapped around the building and queuing up adjacent to the Wyndham downtown. By the time I’d located the ACLU and got t-shirts for Jen, Kathy, and myself, and found my co-marchers, the people lining up were wrapped around the building again, the other way as well, and the crowd was still growing.
The Patriot’s Theatre in Trenton holds 1,900 people, seated, and more than 1,000 in the overflow area, which was soon overflowing indeed. Politicians, organizers, professors, and movers and shakers from around New Jersey were on hand to join hands to show solidarity. In Trenton, about 30% of the marchers were men. Globally, the percentage was much higher. While this is a march for women and by women, there are so many allies all around us that all we need to do is reach out our hands and we’ve gotten stronger.
Bonnie Watson-Coleman, the first African American and first woman ever in New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, made one of the most stirring speeches early on, which can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwdQS8pPf8s. When she spoke, the March was already more than 6,000 strong, many of whom could not even get in to the Patriot’s Theatre for the pre-March rally. Babs Casbar Siperstein, openly transgender superdelegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, spoke eloquently about the work that needs to be done. The speech that touched me most deeply was that of Dr. Dahlia Fahmy, who was born in Clifton, New Jersey and has lived here all her life. Every single word struck chords in me and she had the crowd crying, cheering and affecting every single speaker with her words, which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfqiacO1AYQfeature=youtu.be.
The Women’s March has been completed, but there is still much work to be done. Get out there and protect your freedoms. While you may not be whom someone will come for first, if you’re not “them,” you’re on their list.