On Trump’s Inauguration Day, the pictures told the story; less than one third the number of Americans showed up for the event as showed up for President Obama’s 2008 swearing-in, and the parade (??) route looked like a festival for tumbleweeds with hardly anyone in the stands. If Trump is truly the beloved favorite of the majority of Americans (not counting the 3 million more who voted for Hillary Clinton than for Trump), then apparently that majority preferred not to be seen anywhere near their hero on his special day. Instead, they opted for plausible deniability. You know, just in case of emergency.
But on the following day, America showed up. And not surprisingly, it was the women of America who shook this country to its senses. The Women’s March, which became a global event with coordinated protests in cities and countries around the world, became the largest recorded inaugural protest in American history. As one of the speakers said from the platform, “I don’t know what kind of president you’re going to make, but you’re one hell of an organizer.”
Confirmed estimates of crowd size report the number in attendance to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 500,000. They were only counting on about half that number. In Chicago, organizers hoped for 50,000. More than 250,000 showed up. So many that the march had to be cancelled and a rally was held instead. It was the same story around the country and around the world; now that the reality of a Donald Trump presidency has taken hold, the message of discontent and unrest was delivered loud and clear. What needs to happen now, and what apparently is underway, is a sustained resistance that does not let up, not for one single day. This doesn’t just mean more marches and protests, although that will be needed too. It means everyone needs to do their part, from our elected representatives, both on the local and national level, who acknowledge the threat we all face, to the grassroots activists and community organizers, to the journalists and the artists. This is going to take fulltime commitment from everyone.
The lengthy list of speakers Saturday predictably had many of them saying virtually the same thing, just with a few words moved around. But the important point was that they were there together, and from a broad background that actually looked like America. Everyone from Angela Davis to Michael Moore to Madonna to Van Jones, to Janelle Monae. There were gays, lesbians, transgender, African American, Native American, Hispanic, old and young. From Black Lives Matter to Sen. Jennifer Warren.
It was the rest of us, and here is what we had to say (transcribed quotes courtesy of Elle magazine):
“Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack, and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday. But the president is not America. His cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America. And we are here to stay.” -America Ferrera
“It was woman that gave you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was woman that gave you Malcolm X. And according to the Bible, it was a woman that gave you Jesus. Don’t you ever forget it.” -Janelle Monáe
“We recognize that we are collective agents of history and that history cannot be deleted like web pages… This women’s march represents the promise of feminism as against the pernicious powers of state violence. An inclusive and intersectional feminism that calls upon all of us to join the resistance to racism, to Islamophobia, to anti-Semitism, to misogyny, to capitalist exploitation… The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance.” -Angela Davis, author and civil rights activist
“Yesterday, Donald Trump was sworn in as president. That sight is now burned into my eyes forever. And I hope the same is true for you — because we will not forget. We do not want to forget. We will use that vision to make sure that we fight harder, we fight tougher, and we fight more passionately than ever — not just for the people whom Donald Trump supports, but for all of America.” –Senator Elizabeth Warren
“They came to this town yesterday. They had red hats on. They were proud of their accomplishment. And they thought they had taken America back. What they never counted on was a million women in pink hats that are going to take America forward.” -Van Jones, CNN political commentator
“I woke up this morning and the [Washington Post] headline read, ‘Trump takes power.’ I don’t think so. Here’s the power. Here’s the majority of America, right here. We are the majority.” -Michael Moore