A couple of weeks ago, my wife mentioned a women’s march on Boston Common scheduled for the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. She said that women were knitting pink hats to wear as a sign of solidarity. (She did not use the term “pussy hat”.) Both the event and the chance to knit attracted my wife. “Do you want to come with me?” she asked.
Over the past week, she checked the event’s website daily. First 10,000 people had signed up, then 25,000. By yesterday, 70,000 people had signed up. We arrived at the event an hour before it was to begin. We were fairly close to the front. The crowd began to fill in and we stationed ourselves not too far away from the jumbotron. When the event was originally planned, the organizers thought that 25,000 people might show up and planned as such. As it was an unseasonably warm day, it has been estimated that 125,000 people came to march.
That is a problem. That part of the Boston Common is bounded by a tall, spiked, wrought-iron fence. Once the speeches were done, it took us well over an hour to make our way to the park exit to begin marching the relatively short route in equally clogged streets. But it was all okay. People sang; people chanted; people talked and joked with total strangers. On the ride home, I played the BBC News Hour and we listened to reports from rallies in Washington, DC and all over the world. My wife and I arrived home tired but happy we went.
It was also a strange march. While it was mostly about women’s issues, with lots of references to parts of the female anatomy on signs and shirts, there were also signs about LBGTQIA issues, racial issues, environmental issues and the current U.S. President in general. We are a divided country and today was the losing party’s opportunity to let off some steam. It was really the first chance to do so since election night in November. Will it make a difference? In and of itself, no; but if people take this energy and use it to organize, then perhaps.