It is the day after the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States. But we are not united. So in all 50 states (and all around the world, as well), larger than expected crowds took to the streets, raised their voices, and stood up for women’s rights and the rights of all of those who will undoubtedly be under siege with this new administration, including protestors.
I registered to walk with the American Jewish World Service (ajws.org) with whom I had travelled to Guatemala as a rabbinic global justice fellow 1-1/2 years ago. AJWS is a tremendous advocate for women’s rights internationally.
As we walked, the chants would come in waves, energize us for a time before fading out, replaced then by friendly chit-chat amongst the walkers who were thrust together in tight space. The crowd in NYC was 4x expectations (400,000 rather than the expected 100,000!), and the going was slow, inch by inch. And then another chant would rise, and we’d join in, and sing. Singing as protest is a time-honored and holy tradition.
My favorite chant was the call “Show me what democracy looks like!” to which the crowd would reply, “THIS is what democracy looks like!”
There was also the call “Whose body, whose choice?” with the reply, “My body, my choice!”
And “Love, not hate — that’s what makes America great!”
Along with great chants were creative and meaningful posters. Here are some of my favorite signs and scenes.
Along the way, I ran into my friend and teacher, Alicia Ostriker, poet extraordinaire.
Here is one scene of the great crowd on 42nd St.
The crowds, as I said, were HUGE, and rolled on and on for hours, peacefully, and in good spirit. It took me 6 hours to walk a total of what I estimate to be 3-1/2 miles (about 35 city blocks). That’s terrible mileage! It was dark by the time I finished, and people left their signs behind along 55th Street, which was a great photo opportunity, too.
But those slogans and sentiments must not be left behind on 55th Street. We must carry them in our hearts, continue to be inspired by them, and ACT on them. This feel-good day is a launching pad for further action.
I’ll look forward to working with you in the days ahead.