March? Well, not exactly. Making our way down Pennsylvania Avenue, we waddled like penguins, shoulder-to-shoulder, gentle nudging, moving forward. Only later were we able to "March" on a modified route that appeared to accommodate the unexpected "crowds," circling the back of the Lincoln Memorial and joyfully disrupting traffic. Drivers were cheering, waving signs, and high-fiving out their windows.
The media defined us as a "crowd" of half a million. I am pondering that word. One dictionary definition identifies a crowd as, "a mass of people, especially those considered to be drearily ordinary or anonymous....or a large number of people gathered together typically in a disorganized or unruly way."
On January 21st, 2017, we gave "crowd" a new name or at least a new meaning. I'd like to call it "Crowd-esy:" a large "crowd" of thoroughly courteous, respectful people. Small bumps were followed by apologies; thank you's were generously shared to those who volunteered and back to those who showed up. The event was thoughtful, intentional, and responsible. Not one of the marchers was "drearily ordinary." Creative, clever, incisive signs abounded often colorfully punctuated with art and graphics. "Anonymous?" Just being present sloughed away any hint of anonymity. These were people immersed in the moment.
I say "people." Although a "Women's" March, it was a richly textured event: multi-generational, multi-cultural, mutli-gendered, and multi-issued. Concerns and emotions ran deep without a hint of violence or hostility, centered primarily on issues of women's reproductive rights, equality and racism. "Love" was prominent not only on placards, but in the behavior of those who marched. There were even those giving "Free Hugs."
As a woman in between, I was invigorated. I am at an age in between my mother, Karen, who shared this event with me and my best friend's daughters, enthusiastic and processing the excitement around them. I was born in the 70's and came to age the following decade, reaping many of the benefits of the women's movement of my mother's era. I am a scientist, a Lutheran Pastor and a former CIA agent. None of those were even on my mother's career radar screen. These options and more are reality for those two girls.
One of my favorite signs was around the neck of a 60-ish woman, thanking all the women who came before her. I thank them too. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and all those unnamed in the historical struggle for equality and opportunity would be proud. I know they would have marched in the "Crowd-esy."