I returned from India on January 15. Since then, I have not been able to sleep more than 3 1/2 hours at a time. Needless to say, I have been, and still am, exhausted.
When I heard about the January 21st Women’s March, I was interested, but it seemed like too much for me to do, unless my jet lag was over. After listening to President Trump’s inauguration speech, however, I started thinking about participating in the march again.
I remembered how eager I had been to go to the Seahawks parade that followed their Super Bowl win in 2014. That had involved long walks, difficult transportation, and standing for hours in 20 degree weather. I probably was still jet lagged then.
While, I loved attending the Seahawks parade, I knew the Women’s March was much more important. I also believed it would give me the sense I was doing SOMETHING in what sometimes feels like a hopeless situation.
The march started in South Seattle, not far from where I live, but I decided to join it in the International District (ID), a mile and a half north. While we were still in the ID, a Native American group started drumming and singing.
When they finished, the crowd parted like Moses and the Red Sea, allowing them to walk towards the front of the parade.
There were so many interesting and varied signs. Those signs were as diverse as the members of the crowd that carried them.
(Click on the gallery above to enlarge the photos.)
People lined the streets the whole way. Many of those people also carried signs, so I imagined that a good portion of them would join the march at some point.
There were a few individuals and groups protesting the march. I saw one man carrying a one of Trump’s “Make America Great” signs. There was also a group of evangelical Christians wanting us to “come to Jesus.”
We passed two groups of drummers. Here is a short video that I took as I walked by them.
We waved at window cleaners who were working at least 20 stories up on one of the skyscrapers. They waved back. Employees of the Cinerama Theater stood on the sidewalk, greeting us as we walked by. Some Seattle Center staff came out to meet us when we arrived, saying they had been looking forward to seeing us all day.
The march was meant to be in silence, and I think it was at first, but as people started joining the original marchers, that silence ended, and the atmosphere became celebratory.
At one point, I heard a sound that reminded me of the Blue Angels jets that fly over Seattle during Seafair celebrations every August. I looked up and didn’t see anything. Soon, I realized the sound was coming from the back of the march and moved forward like a wave as people joined it. Seahawks fans are known for making a LOT of noise during the games so I suspected this was the same sound that happens there. From time to time, that wave of sound went through the crowd for the rest of the march. I loved it.
The whole march was 3.9 miles long. I must have walked 2.4 miles of it. It was a very slow 2.4 miles. By the time I arrived at Seattle Center, I was exhausted and my feet were hurting. I laid down on wet grass for awhile and then walked to the Center House where there were food booths and restrooms. The Center House was packed. I wondered if there had ever been a crowd that big in the building before.
The thought of trying to get on the monorail and the light rail when all of those people were ready to go home was overwhelming. I also believed it would take another hour or two for everyone who was still marching to arrive at Seattle Center.
I decided to get into the monorail line then, until I saw it already had around 100 people in it. All of a sudden, it seemed like my feet didn’t hurt quite as much, so I walked the mile to the light rail station located at Westlake Center. Before long, I was home, exhausted but happy that I had participated in a meaningful and peaceful protest.
A few days before the march, the organizers were expecting 20,000 to 30,000 people. By the day of the march, that expectation had risen to 50,000. I think everyone was surprised, and happy, when it was announced that 120,000-130,000 women, men and children had participated. What a day it had been.
My friend, Priya, did a beautiful job of writing her experience. I asked for, and received, her permission to add her words to this post.
The mood was of joy, unity and strength, the weather perfect, the police were friendly and relaxed – it was an amazing march, which for many of us transformed a feeling of despair and confusion to renewed hope and commitment. So grateful and in awe of the power of the people! May we continue to support love, equality, and peace. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Another friend, Kathie, sent a link to photos from marches in the U.S. and around the world. I started crying as I looked at them. We are most definitely not alone. To see the photos click here. I think they are absolutely amazing.