TX Women’s March
morning, five members of my family piled into our car and headed to head into
downtown Austin, to march for women. My mother and sister drove in the night
before from their home in rural Texas. My wife and I live just outside of
Austin, which made for a quick and commute to downtown. We left early,
expecting gridlock as 30,000 people were expected anticipated to join us.
just before 10 AM, two hours before the March’s noon kickoff, to discover a
good sized- crowd already on hand milling around the capitol lawn. Volunteers
were giving out event maps and event stickers. Various liberal, Democratic, and
single-issue groups were setting up tables to give out literature. The
speakers, orators and musicians for the day’s event were testing the sound
system. The atmosphere was already electric, faces smiling, a bounce evident in
next two hours, the ‘good-sized crowd’ continued to swell into a veritable sea
of bodies as people continued to pour into the grounds of the Texas State
Capitol from side streets and out of buses arriving from across the state. The
grounds had the atmosphere of a music festival, but this was not the gathering
of Millennials you’d expect to see at Austin’s ACL Festival, and it was not
homogeneous. Grandmothers and grandfathers shared the space with children,
toddlers, and infants. Every color of skin and style of garb was in attendance.
We saw women wearing hijab, men wearing yarmulkes, old hippies,
fashion-conscious matrons, and hipsters.
eventually became a crush of people. And it got hot, up to 81 degrees in
January with little breeze combined with the body heat of what was at that
time, tens of thousands of people.
To begin the
March, those tens of thousands of people needed to be funneled through a single
gate onto Congress Avenue. It took over an hour for us to start. As we marched
the mile and a half route, supporters lined the sidewalks, leaned out of from
windows, and cheered from rooftops. We chanted until we were hoarse.
primary issue posted on people’s signs and chanted by the marchers was support
for women, this was not a single-issue event. Pride flags billowed bravely.
Black Lives Matter supporters, themselves of all colors, marched proudly. Some
were there to support the environment or to protest racism in general. And yes,
most were also there to express their feelings about the election of Donald
My wife and
I have never been politically active. My mother, in her 60’s, had never been
involved in any type of political activism before … but we were there. My
sister, my wife, and I would all describe ourselves as extreme introverts, but
we were there. Despite some pretty real crowd anxiety, we were there. This was
a sentiment I heard expressed often in the crowd. The election of Donald Trump
and the extremism of his cabinet nominees has galvanized a great many of us out
of our complacency, and I don’t doubt that his actions in his first two weeks
of office have galvanized a great many more.
One of the most
fun things about protests, marches, and rallies is reading all the fantastic
signs. As a Star Wars fan, I loved the “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance”
signs. The “I can’t believe I still have to protest the shit” sign broke my
conservative voters of rural America have been trying to make the claim that
they are somehow the ‘real’ America. I beg to differ. The crowd in downtown
Austin this Saturday, and along with their brothers and sisters in Washington
and around the country are the real America. This is the America where
are all accepted and welcomed regardless of skin-color, gender, sexual
orientation, or religious creed. This is the America that still welcomes the
poor, tired, huddled masses, especially when they are refugees who’ve lost
their homes. This is the America that wants their grandchildren’s grandchildren
to have clean air to breath clean water to drink, and to be able to visit the
same coastal cities that we do. This is the America that will ensure that
everyone gets medical care. This is the America that is willing to prepare for
the changes that technology will continue to bring to our society. The Real
America, if there is such thing, is a nation of immigrants looking toward a
better future, not a bunch of nativists clinging to an imagined fictionalized
and idolized past.
estimate was ultimately estimated that there were 50,000 of us there in Austin.
Estimates for the nation range from 3.3 to 4.6 million marchers in the US.
That’s more than 1% of the population. And for every one of us present, there
were dozen more who were too sick to come, or couldn’t get off of work, or had
other obligations, or just hadn’t been pissed off enough yet to put in the
effort required to endure the preparation, travel expenses, and hassle of a
The type of
unity we saw that Saturday is where we find our strength. We are no longer
single-issue activists when we are willing and ready to stand up together. If
we can stay engaged for each other’s deepest causes, we are the clear
majority. We are strong. This march has brought to light the very needed
discussion of intersectional feminism, and I say that we need intersectional
liberalism as well. If the white ladies who marched on Saturday can show up for
the Black Lives Matter march, we all win. When the men at the Black Lives Matter
march show up to Save the Earth, we all win. When the white men show up to
protest the deportation of our immigrant brothers and sisters, we all win.
particular sign in the crowd stuck with me after the march for two reasons, I
knew the quote from Hamilton and because it seemed to have more than one
possible meaning: “Oceans Rise and Empires Fall”.
We have a choice before us. We
can band together. We can support one another. We can hold onto the positivity
and hope we felt on Saturday. We can stay on the phone with people representing
us in congress. We can be that ocean and rise up. And Trump’s ‘empire’ will
fall. The alternative is that our oceans may literally rise. And America will
One particular sign in the crowd
stuck with me after the march for two reasons, I knew the quote from Hamilton
and because it seemed to have more than one possible me