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Women’s March on Washington (and elsewhere): What to watch for

Women’s March on Washington (and elsewhere): What to watch for

Women’s March on Washington (and elsewhere): What to watch for
Protesters demonstrate against Donald Trump’s inauguration at the Women’s March in Washington, Jan. 21, 2017.
Photographer: Hilary Swift/The New York Times

• Crowds have gathered on Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington, a kind of counter-inauguration after President Donald J. Trump took office on Friday. But all people are invited.

• The event is an attempt to unify protesters around issues like reproductive rights, immigration and civil rights, but it has also encountered divisions.

• The rally in Washington has begun, featuring speakers like Gloria Steinem and performers like Janelle Monáe near the Capitol. Afterward, participants will march down the National Mall.


Here are the highlights so far from the rally in Washington:

• The actress and activist America Ferrera appeared early on.

“It’s been a heartrending time to be both a woman and an immigrant in this country. Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday,” she said.

“But the president is not America. His cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America! And we are here to stay.”

• Gloria Steinem, the feminist icon of the 1960s and 1970s, invoked her heroes from Barack and Michelle Obama to John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X, urged women to continue to be active, and told the women in the group to get to know one another more personally:

“Make sure you introduce yourselves to each other and decide what we’re going to do tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow, and we’re never turning back!” she said.

• The filmmaker Michael Moore urged everyone to call their elected officials every day to press issues they cared about and to join organizations like Planned Parenthood. He even made the crowd repeat and memorize the number he said they should call to reach Congress: 202-225-3121. (It’s the U.S. Capitol switchboard operator.)

And he said they should take back America by running for office.

”You have to run for office. You! Yes you!,” he told the crowd.”I can see your face is ‘No, no Mike, not me, I’m shy.’”

“This is not the time for shy people! Shy people, you have two hours to get over it.”

• The actress Ashley Judd delivered a raunchy, uninhibited speech that made the crowd go wild with enthusiasm. She ended with two references to issues that angered women during the campaign, calling Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman,” and his bragging, in a 2005 recording, that he could use his celebrity status to force himself on women, even groping their private parts.

They “ain’t for grabbing,” Ms. Judd said. “They are for birthing new generations of filthy, vulgar, nasty, proud, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, you name i —, for new generations of nasty women.”

She added: “So if you a nasty woman or you love one who is let me hear you say, hell yeah!”

And the crowd repeated after her: “Hell yeah! Hell yeah! Hell yeah!”

Location: Boston. Time: 10:25 a.m.

Notable sign: Make America Think Again

Overheard: “It’s like, the beloved community,” said Susan Kaplan, 70, who had ridden one of several busses that departed from Newburyport, Mass., to the Boston Common, adding, “It’s a welcome change from yesterday.”

The Boston Common, a gently rolling park ridged by brownstones in the shadow of the state capitol, morphed into a sea of pink hats and protest signs on Saturday morning. Seventy-five buses dropped off protesters, including women in leopard-print pink hats, and young girls with their arms linked, apparently doing the can-can. Organizers said they expected as many as 100,000 demonstrators, and, by mid-morning, there were thousands. Music boomed around the park, and many here seemed to nod to this city’s history of Revolutionary protest.

“Revolution begins in Boston,” one sign said.

Gloria Cole, 66, had turned the protest into a family affair, traveling here with her wife, her daughter, her daughter’s boyfriend, and her brother and sister in law.

“I drew a line, it’s like, I’m an old woman — I’m not that old, I’m 66 — I have to stand up for equal rights for everyone, for human rights,” Ms. Cole said. “We’re here, and we’re not going away.”

Further down the common, Aili Shaw, 14, held a white sign that read, “Our arms are tired from holding these signs since the 1920’s.”

Ms. Shaw had traveled here, by train and car, with friends from her home in Coventry, R.I.

“Women don’t have the rights they should,” Ms. Shaw said.

Jess Bidgood


Location: Denver. Time: 10:22 a.m.

Popular chant: “March! March! March!”

Notable signs: “I won’t stop til it rains glass;” “You can’t comb over misogyny” (accompanied by a drawing of Donald Trump’s hair); “Flunk the electoral college.”

Overheard: “I got to bring my high school punk rock out,” said Emily Hastings, 39, a woman from Denver wearing a black “eat the rich” T-shirt and carrying a “Don’t tread on women” sign. “Punk rock is all about resistance.”

The march began in a park at the center of the city with a group singing “You’ve got a friend.” Marchers blanketed the park nestled between the gold-domed state capitol and city hall, hauling strollers, wearing pink hats and often hugging and kissing.

Julie Turkewitz

Location: St. Paul, Minn. Time: 10:55 a.m.

Notable Sign: “Make America Compassionate Again,” and “I Love You”

Thousands of demonstrators gathered on a drizzly morning clad in rain boots, ponchos and pink knit “pussyhats” to march to the Capitol.

“What Trump has said is so based on exclusion and winning and being right versus taking care of everyone,” said Hilary James, 27, a musician from Minneapolis. “Even if he doesn’t listen to us, I feel it’s important to not sit back.”

Christina Capecchi

Location: Washington. Time: 10:30 a.m.

Popular Chant: “Thank You.” Women here are chanting this to the organizers of the march, who took to the main stage to kick off the day’s events.

Notable Clothing: At the corner of C and Third Southwest, many women (and some men) are cat-eared “pussyhats” of all shades of pink. Organizers wanted to knit as many as one million hats for this event.

People are also getting creative with the signs they carry. Alan and Alison Lewis drove in from Astoria with their 20-month-old, Grace.

“You shouldn’t have to have a relationship to a woman to stand up for women,” Mr. Lewis said. “Equality and justice is enough of a reason to be here.”

Katie Rogers

Pink hats are on the move

Location: Washington

Time: 8:30 a.m.

The Dupont Metro station was a sea of pink hats at 8:30 a.m. It was a festive atmosphere with people singing and chanting.

The third from last car was packed, with crowds of women cramming in next to one another.

“Move in all you nasty women,” said Meg Ables, a comedy writer from New York as she pushed her way into the car.

Sabrina Tavernise

A wave of New Yorkers get ready to go to Washington

Location: New York City

Time: 5 a.m.

Notable Sign: “Hey Little Man, We’re America.”

Overheard: A young man was on a bus with a group of high schoolers leaving for Washington. “At least I can be confident knowing that my first presidential vote will be to vote Donald Trump out of office,” he said.

It was still dark outside early Saturday as women started to gather on a Brooklyn corner to board buses to the march in Washington. They arrived at 4:30 a.m., holding coffee cups and posters and bundled in layers — part of a wave of thousands of New Yorkers traveling there.

A line of women stretched in front of a row of brownstones on 9th Street in the liberal enclave of Park Slope. There was excitement over being part of history and anguish over the election of Mr. Trump.

“I thought it would be a good mother-daughter feminist type thing,” said Penelope Duus, 22, a student at Vassar College who wore a pink hat with “Not my president” written in black marker.

Her mother, Margaret Heilbrun, 59, wore a President Obama pin on her vest. “Rather than sit around in despair we need to start trying to do something,” she said. “Just the act of getting up and joining this is a start.”

Barbara Telfair, 71, persuaded her 19-year-old granddaughter Shyanne Cady to accompany her. Ms. Telfair said she marched in civil rights protests in the 1960s. This was Shyanne’s first protest.

“We’re terrified, and his treatment of women is horrible,” Ms. Telfair said. “He doesn’t value women. His agenda is going to show that.”

Three buses were filled with marchers, but it soon became clear that not everyone would make it to Washington. Sighs erupted as organizers announced that some of the scheduled buses were not coming after all.

Emma G. Fitzsimmons

Who’s going? What do participants care about?

The “guiding vision” for the march is almost as extensive, and as jargon-laden, as any platform thought up by the Democratic or Republican parties. In addition to reproductive rights, the topics covered include racial justice, L.G.B.T.Q. rights, the environment, wage equity, gender equity and immigrant rights.

The march, which evolved from a call to protest posted on Facebook after the election, has brought out some of the fissures in the women’s movement, between generations and among women of different racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds, and the organizers say they have tried to bridge those.

In its early stages, the march was criticized for being spearheaded by white women. They were seen as harking back to feminism’s roots in the self-actualization of white middle-class women, who were bored with domestic life and asserted their desire to work outside the home and compete with men.

But younger women took a more expansive view of feminism.

The rally will include a range of speakers and performers cutting across generational lines: Cecile Richards, Angela Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Moore, the Mothers of the Movement (Sybrina Fulton, Lucy McBath, Maria Hamilton, Gwen Carr), Ms. Monáe and the Indigo Girls.

What is Mr. Trump’s role in all of this?

Many participants believed Mr. Trump expressed misogynistic views during the presidential campaign, with remarks about Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton. After a 2005 recording surfaced in which he said that he could use his celebrity status to make sexual advances toward women, several women came forward to accuse Mr. Trump of inappropriate sexual conduct. He dismissed the recording as “locker room banter” and assailed his accusers.

Demonstrators are challenging the Trump administration on a number of policies, as well. In his inaugural speech on Friday, President Trump did not specifically reach out to women.

“Whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag,” he said.Are there security concerns?

Crowd estimates can sometimes be contentious, but the Facebook event for the march has received more than 200,000 “going” R.S.V.P.s. Organizers say that security precautions will be extensive, including private security, and have posted safety recommendations in an online FAQ. Scattered violence broke out in Washington on Friday, with more than 200 people arrested, and the police in riot gear used crowd-dispersing sprays.

Responding to concerns that violence might also disrupt the women’s march, organizers issued a statement on Twitter affirming their commitment to nonviolence: “Any action that harms people or destroys property which can be attributed — even falsely — to our movements will empower Trump and the forces of hate and fear while weakening our resistance.”

Cassady Fendlay, a spokeswoman for the march, said on Friday that the march would deploy “hundreds if not thousands of marshals trained in crowd control,” adding, “We have no reason to be concerned.”

What about those “pussyhats” I’ve heard about?

Forecasts are calling for balmy weather in Washington, but that will not stop thousands of women from wearing hand-knit hats in various shades of pink and shaped like cat ears. The hats are described in pussyhatproject.com as a way to “make a unique collective visual statement which will help activists be better heard.”

Meet a family with three generations of marchers

Who She IsVirginia Wilcox, 73, of Newtown, Pa.

BackstoryRaised two daughters as a single mother without a high school diploma. After decades of working, retired after starting her own events planning company.

“I remember during the Nixon administration my mother going to demonstrations in Washington from the Philadelphia area. I remember her having arguments with my father who was on the other side of the fence about politics. … My father was a Republican, and his comments would be that Roosevelt ruined the world. … They would shout from room to room saying, ‘You’re wrong.’ It wasn’t just a kitchen table discussion.”

“I’m going to have a great-grandchild in July, and I’m really, really concerned about the place in which he or she is going to live and how he or she is going to make his or her way in the world. We need justice. We need a planet.”

Who She Is: Katharine Clark, 56, of Stow, Mass., is Ms. Wilcox’s daughter.

Backstory: Works as an administrator at a church.

“My mom found herself in a situation, with me, and she totally took responsibility for it and she totally worked hard given that she had to make it the best that she could make it. And I think that’s something that we all have to do. We have to look at where we are, where we stand, what we have at hand, what’s happening around us and make it better.”

“I don’t want a country run as a business. I want the country run as a family, meaning we take care of each other. We learn. We listen. Sometimes we take the knocks sometimes somebody else in the family takes the knocks.”

Who She Is: Brianna Clark, 34, of Maynard, Mass., is Ms. Wilcox’s granddaughter.

Backstory: Works as a manager at a grocery store.

“I have people that I have started with at the same exact time who are maybe not white, maybe not college educated, maybe don’t speak English as their first language, and I think a lot about how I walk into a space and walk into a room and I naturally speak like I expect people to listen to me. And I recognize that that is not everyone’s experiences and how I have been rewarded by that confidence. I’ve been allowed and encouraged to have that. I recognize how a lot of things are not fair.”

Here’s a brief look at one of the issues demonstrators care about: Abortion

Activists who support abortion rights believe legal access to the procedure is under greater threat today than it has been in decades, while abortion opponents sense an opportunity to finally strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established those rights.

Mr. Trump has said that he hopes to fill the Supreme Court vacancy with a justice who would help reverse the decision, and in that way return the issue to the states. And with two liberal justices already well over the age of 75, he may have further opportunity to shape the court during his presidency.

That opposition to abortion rights is shared by many of his top associates, too, including his vice president, Mike Pence. Last summer, Mr. Pence, a longtime abortion opponent, said he hopes to see Roe v. Wade “consigned to the ash heap of history.” And, next week, Kellyanne Conway, the strategist who led Mr. Trump to victory and an outspoken abortion opponent herself, plans to address a major anti-abortion march in Washington, which would make her the first sitting White House official to do so in person.

As a result, anti-abortion activists are energized and hopeful for passage of policies including a permanent prohibition on taxpayer-funded abortions and a national ban on the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which Mr. Trump reportedly supports.

Mr. Trump’s victory has left supporters of abortion rights deeply concerned, contributing to a surge in donations and interest in groups supporting abortion rights, like the Planned Parenthood and Naral Pro-Choice America, both of which are involved in the march.

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