The Women’s March: What We Learned, and What Comes Next

On Jan. 21, 2017, more than 5 million people participated in Women’s Marches around the world, demonstrating that we will fight Trump’s agenda of hate and bigotry. In doing so, they united a global community of progressives who stand for human dignity, equality and justice. While it’s still fresh in our minds, I wanted to reflect on this historic event.

Many us on the team here at CREDO participated in Women’s Marches around the country as well as the spontaneous airport protests against Trump’s Muslim ban last weekend. I want to share some of our stories. They provide insight into the nature of activism and how we can sustain it.

For my part, I knew something very special was happening by the time I reached my connecting flight in Atlanta on Friday. The number of pink Pussyhats was astounding. The flights to Washington had to be 90 percent women. The March effectively started at the airport and our gate. The plane was like a party bus. Passengers were high fiving, sharing stories, taking selfies with strangers and discussing why we all came from so far to march.

Some people judge a protest by its success or failure in achieving a goal. What they miss is that the choice to protest createscommunity. That’s the solidarity I felt so strongly on the flight to the Women’s March in Washington. Leah on the team here at CREDO, felt that too.

“I saw the best in humanity. The BART trains to Oakland were packed, but people were helping each other. When we marched toward a barricade, we all worked together to help an older woman get over. At one point, a parent behind me was holding up his kid and getting tired. ‘Put her on my shoulders!’ I said.” – Leah Edun

People marched for many reasons – for abortion rights, women’s equality, Black lives, immigrant rights and LGBTQ rights, to name a few. We can’t always anticipate Trump’s next offense, but we can always respond with unity.

“It was pouring on Saturday in Atlanta, but the rain stopped and the clouds cleared as if we were meant to march. We chanted in call and response: ‘Show me what democracy looks like!’…’This is what democracy looks like!’ I was carrying a sign that read, ‘This is whatpatriotism looks like.’ A woman came up and thanked me for it.” – Kory Gabriel

The chant “this is what democracy looks like,” and Kory’s sign “This is what patriotism looks like” are important reminders. In times of turbulence, the powerful try to delegitimize protesters by painting them as unpatriotic and anti-democratic. Conflating conscientious objection with disloyalty is a way to divert attention from the real issues at stake.

That’s why it’s so important to remind the world that activism is an expression of love for one’s country. We march to make a better democracy. We fight because we care about the United States and its people. All of them.

“At least 4,000 of us stood outside the War Memorial in Trenton, New Jersey listening to Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman over a speaker. Another 3,000 people had packed into the theater. Bonnie, the first African-American woman to represent New Jersey in Congress quoted MLK Jr: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ ” – Stephanie Lavallato

Stephanie’s experience captures the idea that if you normalize one injustice, you normalize others. We hear Trump’s hatred in the media so frequently that it’s easy to become desensitized. We risk becoming numb to discrimination and bullying. It’s easy to think “well, this one isn’t my issue.”

Apathy is our potential weak spot. We cannot normalize any act of bigotry. We cannot give Trump momentum to perpetrate the next injustice.

“It was special to be there with my mother as well as my kids and husband. After a campaign in which we heard so many comments and behaviors we’d correct in our kids, it felt important to show them we can stand together against racism, against misogyny, against xenophobia. It’s just one day of many, but we have to start somewhere.” -Bethany McGreevy

The meaning of the Women’s March is still unfolding. The impact of that day is now in our hands. What we do now serves as a model for future generations, as Bethany recognized.

Our task is to continue taking action. Every call to your congressional representatives, every petition you sign and every conversation you start can fight injustice. Toward that end, I ask you to take several steps now:

1. Tell Congress: Block the federal abortion ban:
Right now, a bill that would effectively outlaw abortion is moving through Congress. Introduced by Republican Steve King of Iowa, H.R. 490 would make abortion illegal when a fetal heartbeat is detected. A heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy, long before most women realize they are pregnant. Thus, the bill would serve as a near total ban on abortion. Sign CREDO’s petition to block H.R. 490 from moving through Congress.

2. Tell Congress: Don’t defund Planned Parenthood
House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that Congress will attempt to defund Planned Parenthood as part of their repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans will use a legislative process called “reconciliation,” which is immune to filibustering and requires only a simple majority in the Senate to become law. We need 51 Senators to defend women. Sign our petition calling on the Senate to block any bill that attempts to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

3. Tell Congress: Rescind Trump’s racist and xenophobic Muslim ban
In the face of Trump’s hate, thousands of people in communities all across the country came together to loudly and fiercely resist Trump’s racism, xenophobia and hate. There is no room for politics of hate and fear in our communities. We must take action now to fight back against Trump and his racist administration’s xenophobic and illegal attempts to demonize Muslim and immigrant communities.

4. Tell mayors: Publicly reject Trump’s xenophobic agenda and do everything in your power to protect immigrants and refugees.
Thousands of people took to the streets and flooded airports in outrage. Their signs and chants made clear why people had come out and come together: to fiercely resist Trump’s racism, xenophobia and hate and put officials in our communities on notice that we expect them to reject Trump’s dangerous agenda and stand with the communities he threatens.

5. Defend the Supreme Court
Tell Leader Schumer and all Senate Democrats: Block any Supreme Court nominee who won’t stand up for progressive values and the people most threatened by Trump’s dangerous agenda.

6. Stay Informed
Follow CREDO and your favorite advocacy groups on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Have face-to-face conversations with people who might not be aware of what’s happening. Every dialogue can bring a new voice into the progressive movement. And of course, keep up with the work of the Women’s March and their next events too:

Trump lost the popular vote, and we– the majority – must remind him of that daily. Now, let’s raise the volume.