The Real Architects of Society: Stories From the Women’s March

“Women are the real architects of society.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

6 a.m. It’s still dark. I’m in a strange bedroom again just a block from busy Wisconsin Avenue but it’s quiet. At this very moment, six women I know from New Hampshire are on a plane out of Manchester headed here to D.C. for the Women’s March. Yesterday on Facebook I saw a post from another woman I knew in Exeter, a stay at home Mom who used to babysit my girls while I was at work. She’s on her way to march with her daughter who lives here. Another woman is probably awake by now because she left late last night on a rally bus out of Portsmouth and I’m sure the bus full of women are starting to stir as they approach the city  after an uncomfortable night sleeping in their seats. She’s promised to share her bus trip stories with me.

The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your community. – Susan Sontag, At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches

We have reached a point in American history where it is not enough to be outraged. It is not enough to once in awhile throw up a picture of Meryl Streep on Facebook or Instagram and let someone else speak for me. We have to speak up and let our voices be heard.

Last night my sister in Rhode Island texted and told me all the people she knew who were coming, including the little girl we used to babysit who is now a grown woman in her forties. At a bonfire in Vermont I attended on New Year’s Eve I met ten women who were planning to come to the Women’s March. They are also traveling on a rally bus.

But they’re not all just coming here to the nation’s capital. They’re marching at 673 Sister Marches across the country and all over the world. As the clock ticks toward seven a.m. and I need to get up and get ready, an estimated 2,226,540 women are also putting on their walking shoes and getting ready to march for the values they cherish and the world they want to live and raise their children in.

I was at a meeting two years ago in Beijing, and I passed a bunch of women who were marching in a protest. Their signs were probably saying something I wouldn’t have agreed with at all. But I was so glad to see women marching. And it’s happening all over the world. ~ Betty Friedan

If you are also awake right now check the Sister March link above, find one near you, and JOIN US. Yes, there was a riot at one of yesterday’s protests not far from the Inaugural parade. That was an exception to the rule. There were more peaceful protests than not but that is what the media chose to focus its lens on. I expect today will be peaceful.

My friend on the rally bus just texted. She has arrived and is looking for the Metro. We are leaving the house soon. I believe the media has underestimated the number of people attending today. Last night on a CNN broadcast covering yesterday’s riot a guest speaker brought up the march and the commentator ignored the response and basically undermined the march. They are underestimating us once again. So get up on this Saturday morning, put on your sneakers, and let’s make history together.  #BEBRAVE #SPEAKUP #NOWMORETHANEVER

“Others, craven-hearted, said disparagingly, that “he threw his life away,” because he resisted the government. Which way have they thrown their lives, pray?”
― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

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4 thoughts on “The Real Architects of Society: Stories From the Women’s March

  1. Getting ready for the Rhode Island rally, a Kingsian non-violent event. Peaceful resistance.
    Peace to you, Sheila, and thank you for being one of the agents that got me to leave my f/b protest, put on my shoes, and attend a protest for the first time in my life. A little scared, but we have to do this.

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      • My fears were not realized, Sheila. The huge crowd was raucous, exuberant, but friendly and joyous in its unity.
        Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements estimated the group at 7,000+ and noted both that he’s never seen a crowd this large at the state house and that other than traffic congestion there were no problems. No trouble. Only one person that I saw, a young man approached the podium yelling. After having his say he was quietly and gently escorted by a trained volunteer.
        There were several speakers including Governor Raimondo and her husband and a handful of local state politicians. Both of our Congressman attended and were acknowledge but did not speak. The day was not about politicians, it was about the grass roots.
        Other speakers included two articulate young women in high school and representatives from a number of Rhode Island human rights groups.
        Singers included another high school girl and the iconic Rose Weaver. The irreverent and hilarious Extraordinary Rendition Band, a brass, reed, and percussion band from Providence, led us in chant.
        From my vantage point right on the state house steps mere feet away from the speakers podium, I had an excellent view of the masses gathered on the lawn and mall. As I turned from the speakers to view thousands of women, men, and yes, children, I could see that the overflow of people stretched pass the state house mall into the nearby sidewalks. As far as I could see, people were gathered peacefully.
        Not once was there any moment of danger, of getting out of hand, of rioting. It was loud as we were led to call, “Rise Up! Rise Up!”
        Shana Wells, the lead organizer of the rally, noted that the gathering was not a protest, but a demonstration of solidarity. As the event neared its end, she asked us to turn to our neighbors, shake their hand and say, “You are not alone. I am with you. We are in this together.” It was wonderful to see thousands of strangers to to those around them, shake hands, sometimes hugging, and openly showing solidarity.
        We were there to state that we believe that all people should be treated with fairness, justice, equality, and respect, no matter their gender, race, income, country of origin, religious belief or non-belief. The people of Rhode Island stood strong in concert with all 673 groups recognized by the nation’s main event, The Women’s March in Washington, D.C.
        I am honored to have been a small part of this rising.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Connie for your lovely and encouraging report from Providence, RI. We had over a half million women, men and children in DC and here was no violence or arrests. I’ve been hearing it was the same all over the world. I’m finishing up a blog right now. What a day for democracy. Let’s keep sharing our stories.

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