Shoulder to shoulder, with common ground below us and the spirit of the First Amendment wrapped all around us, I marched alongside what is estimated as a half-million demonstrators at the Women’s March on Washington.
Women’s rights are human rights was the front and center message, but in a day that included simultaneous global demonstrations, other concerns were voiced: climate change, health care, science, immigrant’s rights and mistreatment of minorities.
I arrived early with my own Macon tribe of fellow marchers at the official area — along with throngs of thousands. As the morning went on, starting with a rally of speakers and performers, the crowd continued to swell, pouring in from every avenue — every letter and number of D.C.’s street system filled with intense, passionate people.
There were times it was almost crushing — we were unable to move or see above the sea of demonstration — our march reduced to a small shuffle. But even in those intense moments, there was peaceful protest everywhere to find — signs telling our stories: “Love Makes Us Human,” “Scientist Immigrant Muslim to Stay,” “A Woman’s Place is in the Struggle” and “I Didn’t Survive Rape for This.”
And there were the cheekier statements: “Nasty Proud,” and “Don’t Grab on Me.”
Because the crowds continued to surge, quick decisions were made to spread the march in multiple directions — towards the White House, the Capitol, the Washington Monument and anywhere the pavement would let you move.
We soon found our groove in our own route and made our way up 15th Street, crossing Pennsylvania Avenue.
Looking up at the building of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, there were the banners of faces on common paper currency: Former presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, founding father Alexander Hamilton and now, freedom leader Harriet Tubman. While the men held their stoic portraiture profile, Harriet Tubman looked straight ahead. And if you followed her eyes on the banner, they fell directly on us. Our chant suddenly changed from “We won’t go away! Welcome to your first day!” to “Harriet! Harriet! Harriet!”
And that’s when my march moment happened. This is why I came to Washington. It’s not that simple, yet it’s not that hard to figure out. Just look at a $20 bill. And for all of those who see her staring right back at us, this is why we march on.