In case you couldn’t tell, this is part two of our on the scene report by some of the incredible women that we’re fortunate to call our neighbors in Louisville (read PART 1 here). Some of the women involved attended the protests and Women’s March in DC, and some could only get to the rally in downtown Louisville. But everyone is doing their part to make their voice heard, and a powerful one that is. We did our best to get a decent cross section of folks that went up, but it’s possible that we might have missed out on some great resources. Is that you? We want to here your story. The door is open at Never Nervous for anyone interested in telling their story; our world is made richer by a diversity in voice, and we invite you to share your truth.
Jenn Allen Meredith
My experience at the Women’s March was one of solidarity and peace. Also, it was really, reallllly crowded. There was no room to move, much less sit, or go use the bathroom, so it was standing, (or moving at a snaillike pace) crammed in like sardines next to likeminded strangers, for roughly about 12 hours, rationing one bottle of water I had brought with me. (Rookie mistake) If this were for anything else, I probably would have left, or perhaps wouldn’t have gone in the first place. (I tend to get panicky in crowds or tight spaces, no matter the cause.) But, I knew with a fire in my heart that this cause, and sending this message, with these women, in the Capitol, was so much more important than anything else. Sort of related…. I saw one sign that said, “Things are so bad even the introverts showed up.” I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert, but I really identified with that. It’s like — Look. THIS is how messed up things have gotten. You’ve got people who’ve never protested a day in their life, showing up in record breaking numbers, on DJT’s first day on the job. That’s how important this is. That’s how necessary this is. We have NO future as a country if we do not have equality of the sexes. We simply do not. The only way we’re going is forward.
“You’ve got people who’ve never protested a day in their life, showing up in record breaking numbers, on DJT’s first day on the job. That’s how important this is. That’s how necessary this is. We have NO future as a country if we do not have equality of the sexes. We simply do not. The only way we’re going is forward.”
What prompted me to go? Well, the election results, for one. LOL But, honestly, I not only wanted to send a message to the incoming administration, but also to the younger generations, the next generation – I wanted to help reinforce to them that we do not accept this. That the right to peacefully assemble is, at least as of today, legal and there for you to use. Yes, he was elected President, and I do accept that as a fact. However, I want to make it known that I reject every bit of bigotry, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, the denying of climate science, and the attempts to restrict women’s healthcare and shut down Planned Parenthood. To name a few. As soon as the shock wore off from Nov 8, and talks of this march had begun, I got together with two other women I’d watched the election with at Barret Bar in Louisville, and we made a plan to get to DC for this. We didn’t know each other that well, and threw the trip together rather spontaneously, but I think we’ve bonded for life after this experience.
All of that said, what I’ve taken away most from this whole experience is that while there are SO many issues out there that affect women all over, it can be overwhelming and therefore difficult to distill your message down to just one thing. As one of the speakers at the rally stated, “So we’re here to talk about women’s issues? Okay, let’s talk about healthcare. Women’s issues? Let’s talk national security.” All of these issues are women’s issues, and these issues tend to negatively affect women of color the most. So, I’m working to make sure my message doesn’t shout over the voices of women of color and is as inclusive as possible. It’s not impossible to still be impassioned, loud and strong, and to also make sure that you’re making space for all women to do the same, and in the same capacity. To be a better ally. I also went home in total awe of the unwavering feminine spirit. Hearing how loud our voices were was so empowering; I was on the edge of tears and had a lump in my throat for much of the march. There was a moment where we joined hands and held them over our heads as we began to march, rows and rows of tens of thousands of women (just who I could see) linked up and marching on Washington. I will never forget that feeling – powerful, unified and loud as hell. I felt it then, what a strong message we were sending. We had zero cell service while at the march due to the sheer volume of people, so we had no idea that these marches were so well attended in other cities and even on other continents. Riding the train back home, we checked out the delayed notifications we’d gotten about NYC, LA, Seattle, Chicago, even Paris and Mexico…. Talk about feeling proud and supported.
“What comes next for me … ACTION. Clicktivism has got to GO.”
What comes next for me … ACTION. Clicktivism has got to GO. I’m working on a fundraising event to benefit a deserving woman-forward organization (early planning stages, so sorry to be vague), sending letters and making calls to my state senator and representative’s offices, and becoming more involved in our refugee resettlement program here in Louisville, working on new ways to stand with those in our community to help combat islamophobia and racism. Also, the organizers of the march are also prompting action through a campaign called “10 Actions / 100 Days” which I’m doing, as well. This was a big part of our conversation on the drive home – what’s next? How do we address these things, and how do we encourage other people to participate in a way that is most impactful? Three days out, I’m still working that out, but I think these are good places to start.
Miranda Jo Hellman
I opted to drive to D.C vs. taking one of the buses. Six other ladies joined me, and we drove through the night and pulled into D.C. Saturday morning around 10am. The streets were packed from the moment we crossed into the city. It was overwhelming to see all of the people pouring across the bridge into downtown. Every street we turned down we could see more and more people walking to the National Mall. It was such a happy and excited crowd. We blared Beyonce (who run the world?) and cheered along with the crowd. None of us really knew what to expect, we all planned for the good (signs, shirts, pins, etc.), and the bad (scarfs if there was gas, walkie talkies if phones didn’t work, we even had buddies and meeting points).
Overall, it was one of the most positive and supportive crowds I have even been a part of. It was extremely crowded. We were packed shoulder to shoulder into the park in front of the Capitol, waiting for the rally to end. We couldn’t see the screens, and were blocks and blocks from the stages, but we all just chatted about the people, groups, and signs we saw around us, but mostly has stood there taking it all in. The sheer amount people was overwhelming. Once the crowds started moving people just poured into the streets, we walked from the Capitol, passed the National Archive (which has this amazing sign up), passed Trump’s hotel (which is literally a few blocks from the White House, sit with that for a minute), down Pennsylvania Avenue, and then turned towards the restaurants and businesses in downtown D.C. The roads passing directly in front of the White House were closed during the march, but so many streets completely surround it were completely full of people.
“Everyone in my group and most of the people I heard talking about being in D.C. echoed the same sentiment, that it was empowering and beautiful to be surrounded by so many different men, women, and children that all felt so strongly about equal rights and social justice issues, that they traveled from all over the country to be in D.C. Everyone watched out for everyone else. I am sure we weren’t all 100% like- minded, but we were all united in the fact that we weren’t OK with sitting back and letting this administration trample on the rights that were so important to all of us. I saw so many signs supporting women’s rights, disabled persons, LGBTQ rights, immigrants, minorities, and so many more.”
My experience in D.C. was 100% positive and inspirational. It was a very hopeful crowd. Everyone in my group and most of the people I heard talking about being in D.C. echoed the same sentiment, that it was empowering and beautiful to be surrounded by so many different men, women, and children that all felt so strongly about equal rights and social justice issues, that they traveled from all over the country to be in D.C. Everyone watched out for everyone else. I am sure we weren’t all 100% like- minded, but we were all united in the fact that we weren’t OK with sitting back and letting this administration trample on the rights that were so important to all of us. I saw so many signs supporting women’s rights, disabled persons, LGBTQ rights, immigrants, minorities, and so many more. The marchers were so diverse, and I saw all of those groups very well represented. I read an article in the car ride home that perfectly summed up how I felt in that sea of so many other outspoken and powerful women. It said, “A lot of people predicted that women were going to change America’s political history in January of 2017. But pretty much no one anticipated that they’d be doing it as leaders of the resistance.” [http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/01/the-future-of-the-left-is-female.html?mid=huffpost_women-pubexchange_facebook]
I am very aware that I am a white, educated, middle class, cisgender, able body person, and I know when and where to check my voice and know my place in a movement; however, with this March, I felt that I HAD to be in D.C. I do not only disagree with this administration’s campaign platforms and policies, but I whole heartedly believe that they are bad for our country, our democracy, and I know they will directly affect me and those closest to me, including my friends and family.
I believe in social justice advocacy, and promoting equal rights for every american. I feel like there are a lot of voices out there, mine included, that this administration will refuse to hear, so I wanted to join this march, because I think it gave a voice to a lot of groups that otherwise would not have the platform the WMW gave them. The first 5 days in office has shown us that this administration is working to (literally) silence the voices speaking out for the environment (EPA media gags), LGBTQ rights, women’s healthcare and rights (global gag rule), and immigrant’s rights (entry bans, registrations), are (literally) being silenced. And this weekend showed that millions of people around the country (and world) are just not going to stand for it.
I think what comes next is that we all remain vigilant, on a personal level and on a political level, and continue to participate. Download apps like “Countable”, write and call your Senators (super easy to find contact info; Rand Paul: (202) 224-4343, Mitch McConnell: (202) 224-2541), support and volunteer with organizations that support issues that are important to you, keep letting D.C. know when you aren’t happy with the current policies being implemented. I have been discourage about our government, and even sometimes the people around me, but it is just a reminder that speaking up and keep working to foster a caring and supportive environment, and even when we are not in the majority, we can speak up and make a difference.
I have seen, first hand, that some of the rhetoric since the summer has bread negativity and hate, but I hope that seeing peaceful demonstrations and continuing peaceful action will encourage millions more to take part in taking back our government (not just from an opposing political party or politician) and voicing our opinions to our political leaders when we do not agree with those who represent us (on a very small local or state scale, all the way to the president).
I am a family nurse practitioner that works every other weekend. It so happened that I was off this past weekend and did not have any other commitments planned for that Saturday morning. The timing was write so I marked it on my calendar. I didn’t plan to go with anyone. My husband works every Saturday so I knew I was going solo. That was fine with me. I parked at the unemployment office since they have free parking there and the offices are closed on Saturdays. As I headed out to the court building across for the court house I saw my friend Paty Robles walking my way. She was going to meet a Mexican family that was parked at the Grey Hound terminal and didn’t know exactly where to go. I asked her I can stay with her and of course she insisted I do. She was there with her friend Shelly and was also going to meet with another mutual friend, Connie Martinez. It so happens that 11 years ago, Paty and I marched together on a May day march and rally. We marched for workers rights, especially undocumented, Latino workers who many times would get stiffed by their employer due to their lack of documented status. She had told me then and reminded me on Saturday that 11 years ago was her first march for peoples rights. It seemed odd that here we met again for another march/rally. A coincidence, for sure.
It was a very loving experience. Connie had made some posters saying, “Latino Families Presente”, “Where there is love there is life”, “Let us break the cycle of oppression”. Connie said that she wanted to send a positive message. I totally agreed with here. I saw other friends there at the march. My sisters at Looking for Lilith Theatre Company were there and gave us one of there signs for our group of latinxs. It was definitely a positive experience with lots of beautiful signs expressing love and solidarity.
I took away that despite me going by myself, I was never going to be by myself when I got there. So many of my friends were there. It’s nice having friends that feel the same as you. I was never alone.
What do you hope it accomplished? I hope it will accomplish that people will stand up for all not just their own right but everyone’s rights. An affront to one is an affront to all. As a producer of Spanish language theatre in Louisville, I have made a commitment to produce relevant theatre that speaks to the issues of the day. This rally was an affirmation of our mission.
Well, I continue as I have always done. I am no wallflower. I have always had a sense of community and the desire everyone achieve their goals. I will continue to be a Family Nurse Practitioner that produces. I dabble in playwriting and other theatre jobs. I have found that theatre uses all the artistic mediums to tell the stories of this earth.
Robin Elise Weiss
It was a really amazing experience. I actually enjoyed the conversations on the way up and back on the bus full of (mostly) women that I hadn’t previously known about what we’re doing locally to find ways that work and to promote equality and safety for all. The march itself was loud and physically uncomfortable, but I expected that and welcomed that. It was nice to be around similarly minded people, which is completely different than saying we all agreed on everything.
I wanted to be a part of something bigger than me and entertained the idea before the concept of the sister marches happened or really took hold. My 16 yo daughter expressed an interest and asked for a ticket for her present for Chanukah. So, I knew I couldn’t let her go alone and we both went.
There are a lot of people who are paying attention now, and that’s different and good. One thing that surprised me and my fellow bus mates was that we (DC Marchers) weren’t alone. We were all so thrilled and amazed at the people all over the world who joined us. It felt really connected.
Connections help us act. If I know you’ll support me if I stand up against bigotry and hatred, I’m more likely to do it. If I know someone will teach me what to say when I call a senator, or proofread my letter to the editor – I’m more willing to act. Isolationism is a huge problem, even bigger is that we didn’t know we were isolated because we feel so connected on social media.
“If I know you’ll support me if I stand up against bigotry and hatred, I’m more likely to do it. If I know someone will teach me what to say when I call a senator, or proofread my letter to the editor – I’m more willing to act. Isolationism is a huge problem, even bigger is that we didn’t know we were isolated because we feel so connected on social media.”
While I have always and will always act, I am taking to heart the articles that say, don’t let this become all talk and no action. I’m trying to get others to act too. I post things that are simple on Facebook and Twitter for people I know to do a phone call, or a letter. It’s a chain reaction, a domino, if you will.
All photographs taken by Miranda Hellman in Washington DC.