‘Hopefully this energy will continue’: What it was like walking in the Boston Women’s March

‘We can whimper, we can whine, or we can fight back’

“Give Paul Ryan a period.” “Free Melania.” “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.”

Boston marchers got creative with their signs and slogans during the Boston Women’s March For America on Saturday, the day after President Trump’s inauguration. Over 200,000 men, women and children assembled in Boston Common on Saturday morning to hear speakers like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey before beginning their one mile march.

The already painfully slow B line, along with the rest of the Boston public transport system, was packed with marchers, their signs and their “pussy hats.” The crowd of people coming out to support the march’s mission to protect “our rights, safety, liberty and families grew in numbers and strength at each T stop.

Arriving at the Common, the crowd stretched as far as the eye could see and, even after hearing almost 100,000 people were expected to attend, I was stunned when I saw it firsthand. After hearing that my generation is too complacent in the face of injustice and needs to realize the power students and young people have to provoke change, here I was, taking part in what some news outlets have called the largest protest in United States history.

The farther I got into the Common, the denser and more energetic the crowd became. Trying to get even a few feet further through the group became a challenge. On my way through the crowd, I saw everyone from school groups to Quaker groups, infants to the elderly. People were perched in trees and atop statues, proudly waving their hands and signs in the air. The crowd was as diverse as the causes they were there to support. Whether they were holding a sign urging the government to advocate for LBGTQIA rights or take action against climate change, it felt united.

The fear and trepidation surrounding Trump’s presidency and the new administration was palpable, but was overshadowed by the feeling of solidarity and strength unlike anything I have ever experienced.

I could not see the stage where Senator Warren was speaking from, and I could only catch bits and pieces of what she was saying as 200,000 people began clapping and cheering when she said, “we can whimper, we can whine or we can fight back.” 

The noise and electric energy evaporated as quickly as cheers had begun when issues such as repealing the ACA and restricting women’s reproductive rights were spoken about. I heard a girl next to me mumble, “Can you imagine if they made abortion illegal?” and her friend respond “I don’t even want to think about it.” But, whether somber or triumphant, strangers began to feel like friends and discouragement was replaced with perseverance.

The BC student body was well-supported, and, if social media is any indication, well-represented at the march. The BC Women’s Center said they were looking forward to “supporting students who are attending the Boston Women’s March” and “recognize that this is an important moment in history and want to ensure that all BC students, as well as the Women’s Center staff, have an opportunity to participate in it and engage in social action. This march is a special opportunity to come together with our larger Boston community for the bipartisan celebration of women.”

No matter how many hours I stood there, I couldn’t get past being amazed at how many people were there. As my friends and I lifted our phones above our heads to take photos or lifted each other into the air to get a better view, we told each other over and over how incredible of a sight it was. But, whether I’m looking at the aerial photos of the march published over the last few days or thinking back to only being able to see the few signs and people closest to me, what I saw was only the beginning of groundbreaking social activism to come.

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