There was a moment at the start of the Seattle Women's March that demonstrated why we were there:
A little girl got separated from her mother as the crowd turned to hear the event's opening speeches. Our wonderful Mistress of Ceremonies announced that 10-year-old Campbell was missing, and asked the crowd to look for her. Just then, hundreds of us started calling her name, beckoning her to the stage where her worrisome mom was awaiting. We went on to listen to amazingly fired up speeches, but as they were ending, we learned that Campbell was still lost in the crowd that covered every inch of the park. Some people started to march towards the route, but a chorus of voices started chanting, "Not without Campbell! Not without Campbell!" The crowd erupted into cheers when a minute later, we saw this little girl run to the stage to hug her mom tight.
In a civilized society, we look out for others, and we care about people, especially our children.
At the biggest protest march in U.S. history, empathy and action were on full display.
This wasn't just in Seattle's 175,000-person march, but in hundreds of others--in all 50 states on all seven continents with reportedly almost five million participants. The revolution will be televised, after all. See for yourself.
People marched for human rights, human decency, and the future of the planet. The crowd size was indeed breathtaking, but it was the energy that made this day truly inspiring. Beyond the actual attendees, there were many others who were there in spirit--people whose ideas and actions guided us along the way.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Please, who doesn't love this lady?
Michelle Obama has been the country's soulful cheerleader for the last eight years, a model of grace and strength. As a momma of feisty and beautiful twin girls, I know that role models matter and it is my righteous duty to showcase respect and kindness. I thank the first lady for always doing that.
When my husband, our girls and I arrived at the park early this misty morning, we started seeing those pink pussycat hats everywhere. (Nowhere in sight were the angry red MAGA caps, made in China.) "It's a wonderland of kitties!" said one of our girls, oozing with excitement. A few minutes later, a lady offered us our very own hats. We were also offered sweet, fresh roses. This feeling of warmth and generosity--while not uniquely female--was contagious. People greeted us with beaming smiles and said things like, "Thank you for bringing your kids" and "I'm so glad you're here with your family."
What's new pussycat? Pink hats!
We didn't have to walk far to see representatives for many non-profit organizations. They all knew that marching is not the end goal; education and activism are needed. Whether the marchers were Hillary voters, remorseful Trump voters, or non-voters seeking redemption, I suspect we are all now aware of the mid-term elections Tuesday, November 6, 2018.
We saw giant puppets of women who'd changed history like Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education.
Mala: "One teacher, one child, one book and one pen can change the world."
There were also puppets of that infamous bromance, whose story of espionage and greed has still to be fully uncovered.
This crowd was pretty woke, as they say. The "fake news" and cyber warfare that marred this election has prompted many of us to follow the facts in a relentless pursuit for truth. And we're not stopping now.
Oh Maya, wish you were here.
People were smiling and connecting with others beautifully, and in a way uncharacteristic of Seattle in January. Gone were the typical dark rain hoodies, today was about colorful expressions. There were girls and boys, women and men of different ethnicities from all over the community. Our solidarity was palpable, and for some, it felt like salvation from the deep disappointed of an election that rewarded the unqualified dude who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Maya Angelou's spirit loomed over us, just as her words did when "Still I Rise" was spoken on stage with unwavering conviction. Other stirring speeches touted the rights of women, Muslims, and Native Americans, giving us food for the soul with accompanying action items.
A friend who participated in the L.A. march told me that her 7-year-old son Kiran was inspired by Gandhi. He took it upon himself to make his own sign marked by the word "Satyagraha." This means "insistence on truth" or "truth force," which is a form of nonviolent resistance.
Meryl Streep, who is arguably as talented as any Jedi Master, quoted Carrie Fisher: "As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art."
Art abided in leaps and bounds.
I hope these signs end up in a museum one day. They were heartbreaking, poignant, witty, and wise. Some signs called for protecting access to healthcare. Others proclaimed their respect for our planet. Many had pussycats on them (more about that in a sec). One of our girls is a huge animal lover, so she made a sign for the penguins, whose habitat could be threatened by this science-denying administration.
Polar Bears in the melting Arctic were a close second.
Some signs were sincere. Some satirical in all the right ways. Even if it does defund the National Endowment for the Arts, this administration can be credited for inspiring a new wave of creativity across the world.
Hands so small, you can barely see them!
Want to see more badasss signs? Enjoy.
I couldn’t help but think of a song that became one of the early feminist anthems. Helen Reddy, are your ears ringing?
I learned that Helen Reddy herself performed this song at the L.A. march, because L.A. gets the sun and the stars, naturally. Here in Seattle? Well, we had a far better chance of running into our friends, even as our march was packed to the gills. The streets were so crowded, people shuffled more than they marched. Still, I heard zero complaints.
Congestion that would normally make you want to rip your hair out in a car was actually invigorating on this day. Why? Because this turnout was about citizenship, democracy, and the First Amendment in full, fleshy view.
The United State of Friends
Even as the marching route was packed, everyone was polite. There was a patience to the proceedings, a sort of maternal kindness. My favorite moment was when an avalanche of sound started rolling towards us from the back of the crowd. A group cheer was making its way in a vocal tidal wave of joy. It gives me goosebumps even as I write about it.
Sigh...This guy. He was at the march too.
His angry tweets were on display and many of his countless insults to [insert any minority here] were documented. Mostly, everything he stands for was repudiated resoundingly.
"Make America Think Again"
"Pussy Grabs Back"
"Girls Just Wanna Have FUN-damental Rights"
Indeed, the Reality TV star-turned president was the catalyst behind all these pussy references. Reluctant though I was, I had to explain this to my girls. This wonderland of kitties was actually a themed response to this man's repulsive bragging about sexual assault. "Would you like it if someone grabbed you by the vagina?" I asked the girls. "Ewwww. No!" one said. "That's inappropriate," said the other. So now they know that the president is a sexual predator. Thanks, 'Merica.
No doubt, the one thing that unified the crowd was a rebuke of this man's degrading attitude. Our president should speak for us, not disparagingly about us. Every man, woman, and child in attendance vehemently agreed. But while the march certainly had that element of resistance to the predator-in-chief, it wasn't just against him. It was for issues we believed in. Which brings me to this statesman, an esteemed Republican, a great progressive, and one of my favorite figures in American history....
Teddy Roosevelt was a man of great intellect and character, wit and wisdom. A man who valued America, not just as a political entity but as a natural wonder, enshrined in the National Parks that he promoted for future for generations. Teddy Roosevelt knew how sacred our union was, and he understood that freedom is worth fighting for.
This march was a fierce way to cope with a new administration that wants to take America back to some antique notion of gender, white power, repression and regression, fueled by greed and arrogance (and insecurity about size). No, say the majority. "We the People" hear the call of democracy and we want progress.
This first march was a moment in a movement forward.
Still wondering why so many millions of us are on the march? Because we patriots care about others and the planet we call home. Patriots who just happened to be wearing pussycat hats.
Rebecca Kraus is a content strategist and creative consultant. After working in entertainment journalism and games design in Los Angeles, she moved to Seattle seeking new adventures. For a whole host of businesses, she writes branded copy, provides digital strategies, and helps develop products. She also blogs about parenting, politics, food, and frivolity.