Photos And Stories From The Women’s March, One Week Later

I finally crawled into bed with the clock closing in on three in the morning. I’d set my alarm for only a couple hours in the near future so that I’d have time to get to the Rally Bus leaving from my small town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia at 6:55. I wanted to arrive early to sit with a couple close female friends and my 59-year old mother. We came prepared with our charged cameras, snack-filled fanny packs, and child-like excitement — as if we were going to an amusement park.

The drive went by quickly as the dark skies gave way to the eager morning light. We shared the highway with countless buses, all heading in the same direction with the same destination with the same amount of determination.

“Is this what it feels like to be growing up?” I thought, as I remembered that my past feelings of excitement were linked to spontaneous adventures, late nights with friends or irresponsible decision-making.

No, this is what it feels like to be a part of a something big.

The day began as masses of women, men and children of all backgrounds topped with pink pussy hats filed out of the buses; some carried homemade signs with messages of hope, resistance, empowerment and unwavering love. Others carried ones of concern, disapproval and undeniable fear.

Their messages covered topics relating to women and their reproductive and basic, fundamental rights, but also LGBQT struggles, immigration support, environmental issues, healthcare protection, Black Lives Matter, and simple statements about why and for whom they were marching.

Over half a million marchers took over the nation’s capital during the peaceful protest, doubling the original expected attendance and reaching numbers higher than the presidential inauguration the day prior.

Crowds grew so large that walking in any direction felt impossible. The metaphorical connectivity I expected, now became literal — shoulders nudged and hands grazed one another. Personal space wasn’t happening, but the general attitude remained grateful. We were in it together, in awe of the overwhelming turnout.

It was in these moments of discomfort where I understood what being a part of a new movement truly felt like. There I stood, camera in hand, periodically blinking away tears in order to see the photos I was taking. Chants rang in my ears, reminding me that our country is compiled of decent and diverse human beings, each wanting to do his or her part to welcome all those who call this country home, with equality, respect and compassion.

As I weaseled my way through the crowd, I spoke to people on a range of topics: where the next bathroom stops were, what street we were on exactly, if they could hear the speakers and performers and most importantly, why they were there. I’ve shared a few below:

No Hate! No Fear! Immigrants are welcome here!

An issue affecting an exponentially large population in our country is the future of our immigration policies. A country once proud of its melting pot status is seemingly trying to dismiss its diversities.

Elizabeth Corbett, 50, of Lenoir City, Tennessee is a teacher of English as a Second Language. She marched on Washington wearing a sign to show her support for her students. More than half of her 40 students are undocumented and don’t meet the requirements for DACA.

“They’ve come too late. They’re afraid and our community’s afraid, and I am too.”

I also had the chance to speak to a woman decorated in buttons and a pink feather in her hat. We waited in a line together to exit a busy building before the official march time. We stumbled on similar topics relating to immigration.

Deborah McCoy, 54, of North Kingstown, Rhode Island is an English Teacher for DORCAS International. Her students are mainly refugees and immigrants. McCoy has become so passionate about her job, she is currently receiving her Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language.

Why does this matter to you?

Why does it matter to me? I guess because the kind of way that I was raised and the kind of America that I think that we are most of the time and can be is when it’s inclusive. That’s what makes us different from any other country in the whole world. Any time that we start marginalizing people or not recognizing the people that we’re marginalizing or making it about us and them or different ethnic groups, cultural groups, gender groups, sexual orientation groups, immigrant origin groups, that’s a bad thing. We need to really all stand up and say we’re all interesting, capable, worthwhile people and we are stronger together. All of our characteristics, all of our talents, all of our ideas, all of our backgrounds add to the betterment of our own personal development and our country’s development.

“To me, this is an opportunity to come here with women and men and groups from all over the country and just say we feel a connection to each other and don’t turn us into groups that are battling for the last cookie.”

Love! Not hate! – Is what makes America great!

A country that has made leaps and bounds toward equality has seemed to forget its footing. Some chants served in support of our country’s greatness, but in honor of our tradition of compassion, not the presence of hate and discrimination.

I spotted Caitlynn Hill, 28, of Maryland taking a break from the march, sitting with a sign as tall as she was. Hill is a Mental Health Therapist and had a strong stance on the future of our women’s protection programs.

“We need protections for women against assault and sexual assault. I’d like to see the LGBT page added back onto the White House page. Those are really important. My partner and I are going to get married in April, so it’s a big deal for us.”

Welcome to your first day! We will not – go away!

This revolutionary movement in history deserves proper documentation. We have grown into a world dependent on our hyper-connectivity through social media outlets and online media platforms. In times of such great history, these advancements can serve as tools to document moments generations will learn about in years to come.

Tracy Everbach, 54, of Dallas, Texas is a Journalism Professor from the University of North Texas. She shared a sign with her husband, adorned with photos of women journalists. Everbach stressed the importance of journalism more than ever right now.

What do you tell your students in a time where the media is being threatened and that their right to report these topics may be in potential danger?

I tell them, look, we had the first amendment to the constitution, [it] guarantees freedom of the press. The free press is not going to go away, and it’s really important them to do their jobs, go out there to be assertive, to be aggressive, to uncover the truth, to investigate. We’re just definitely needed at this point in time more than ever, I think.

“Journalists have to discern the truth and report it. We think it’s really important that they keep reporting on the truth.”

No more debate! Science, not fate!

Days prior to the march, I began planning what I would need to pack and thought out a reasonable and comfortable outfit; the weather was expected to reach the 60s, a temperature abnormal for January. Initially, I was pleasantly content with the mild weather, but as I marched alongside 45-year old Kim Miller of Virginia Beach, Virginia, I remembered being content, or rather, complacent, is what is damaging our environment.

Miller is the Hampton Roads Organizer for Mothers Out Front, a movement of mothers, grandmothers and caregivers advocating for renewable energy resources as rapidly and justly as necessary and possible.

Can you tell me why exactly you’re here today?

We’re here today to march in solidarity with other women for issues that we all care about. Among them would be racial justice, healthcare, support for the LGBTQ community, and specifically we’re here to show that there are women, mothers, grandmothers who care about the environment, and want renewable energy so that we can head off climate change so we can have a little more future for our children.

What would you hope would happen with such a turnout at this protest?

What I hope to happen actually is happening. I’m hearing over a half a million people are here, mostly women, but men as well. It’s being covered by major networks. For good or bad, people are talking about it, and so that’s going to get people’s attention.

Kim Miller’s mother marching in front of Mothers Out Front banner.

“We’ve got people like kids- my children’s age, then me and that’s my mother right there. It’s three generations of women coming out here and making our voices heard.”

Women: My body, my choice! Men: Her body, her choice!

Tony Fasalo of Leesburg, Virginia caught my attention initially with his humorous sign, and secondly from his outward openness to speak with all those around with optimism, comfort and humor.

At 80 years old, Fasalo is a retired Army Officer and current Substitute Teacher. As I aimed my camera upward to photograph his sign, his gaze dropped to my press pass badge.

“What is Uproxx?” he said.

For the next few minutes, I explained what my purpose at the march was, and I asked him what his was.

“I’m actually here for my wife. I have a daughter, and I have a granddaughter. I [want to] make sure they do have the rights as everyone else, and I’m glad to see so many people from different parts of the country standing together and pushing for women’s rights. Equal rights for all.”

“I just believe that we’re losing equality, we’re losing a lot of freedoms and we need to stand up and let people know that we’re not going to take it.”

The day flew by quickly, and it wasn’t until my feet ached and my arms tired from holding my camera did I realize it was time to journey back to our bus. We walked past multiple metro stops until we found one that was seemingly the least crowded. The continuous roars of chants echoed within the walls, and though everyone’s energy seemed zapped, the generosity continued. People were eager to help with directions or watch out for each other’s varying stops.

A girl named Collette Wilson with thick glasses quietly stood with her mother with a smile. The 11-year old 6th grader had traveled from Los Angeles, California and answered my questions shyly and simply.

Why did you want to come here today?

Because it’s kind of important, because it’s affecting everybody, and that’s not good.

I stood there for a moment, wondering if she wanted to say anything more. I quickly realized — she didn’t need to. Here’s what you can do next.

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