By Brittany Webb
Throngs of women lined D.C. streets for the Jan. 20 women’s march. Estimated at close to a million, This photo shows activists wrapped around the new National Museum for African American History and Culture. PHOTO: James Zimmerman/Trice Edney News Wire
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – A sea of pink hats, signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter”, gay-rights flags and posters with all sorts of demands of justice filled the crowd at the Women’s March on Washington Jan. 20.
Millions of women of all races and nationalities were joined by men in the nation’s capital and around the world to defend the human and civil rights, honor and dignity of people – and some to protest the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, which many view as a threat to human rights progress.
“We march to declare we are ready for the fight. We are here to declare that we are America. We will stay awoke and we will not be moved,” said Black Women’s Roundtable Convener Melanie Campbell in her speech to the DC crowd, which was so packed that they could not march to the White House as planned. “We march for Black women who voted 94 percent for Hillary Clinton, who by the way won three million votes over her opponent…We march, even for the 53 percent of White women who voted for that other guy, to reflect and join us, all of us, moving forward to break that glass ceiling to elect the first woman president of America and to select a Black Woman to the Supreme Court in our lifetime.”
Celebrities like Madonna, Alicia Keys, Maxwell, Janelle Monae and Jidenna joined political figures, commentators and activists like Campbell, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, CNN’s Van Jones; NAACP Chair Roslyn Brock and activist Angela Davis to support and energize women who are determined to fight for equality.
The DC crowd was vastly White. But a strong contingency of Black women participated and spoke during the rally. “We stand in solidarity,” said Brock of the NAACP. “To declare that women’s rights are human rights. We send a message to our new government that we will not stop until women enjoy equal status. Throughout the history of this nation, women have worked to enjoy full civil rights. In 2008, 2012 and 2016 Black women exercised the right to vote larger than any other group in this nation,” she said as the crowd cheered.
Because the marches, which also took place in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and other cities in the U. S. around the world the day after the Trump inauguration, activist Angela Davis declared the demonstration to be a part of American history.
“At this very challenging moment in our history, let us remind ourselves that we, the hundreds of thousands, the millions of women, trans people, men and youth who are here at the women’s march, we represent the powerful forces of change that are determined to prevent the dying cultures of racism, heteropatriarchy from rising again,” Davis said.
Despite the march being geared towards the rights of woman, Davis left the mark of Black people on the hearts of the crowd when she addressed the roots of the nation. “The freedom struggles of Black people that have shaped the very nature of this country’s history cannot be deleted with a sweep of a hand,” Davis said. “We cannot be made to forget that Black lives do matter.”
Amongst the sisters were men who were present in the name of their sisters, mothers, wives, girlfriends and women alike. One of those men was CNN commentator Van Jones. “With every breakdown, a breakthrough is possible, and today, because of you, something beautiful is being reborn in America,” Jones said. “Something beautiful is being reborn right here, and right now.”
For some women, it was refreshing to see men standing in solidarity with the people who society deems to be less than compared to them. “To see men fighting the good fight alongside us is humbling,” Alyssa B. of Philadelphia said. “It gives us hope and a sense of us not having to do it alone. It’s the definition of humanity.”
Though the D.C. women could not march to the White House as planned, President Trump still got the message. He tweated the next day, “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”
Actually, there were few celebrities spotted in the crowd of marchers, except entertainers on the stage. As protesters gathered from cities across the nation, one D.C. native took to the stage to demand one thing from government on behalf of women.
R&B singer Maxwell serenaded the crowd with his hit single “This Woman’s Work,” dedicating it to the late Sandra Bland, who was found hanging in July 2015 in a Waller County, Texas jail cell three days after a contentious arrest that started with a stop for an alleged traffic signal violation. Authorities ruled her death a suicide, but the family disputed that claim. Her family was awarded a settlement of $1.9 million in the case.
Black women who joined in the march said the need for solidarity between women activities at the point in history is clear. “Black women benefit when a women’s rights agenda – equal pay, affordable child care and health care, and access to education, among other things – is embraced,” said columnist and economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux, former president of Bennett College for Women. “It was refreshing to see so many White people carrying Black Lives Matter signs.”
While the Woman’s March on Washington is over, the fight for women’s rights, human rights and religious rights continues. And while fear keeps some from standing on the front lines, singer Janelle Monae urges protestors to keep choosing to fight for freedom. “Continue to embrace the things that make you unique even if it makes others uncomfortable,” Monae said. “You are enough, and whenever you feel in doubt, whenever you want to give up, you must always remember to choose freedom over fear.”