The clerk at the airport took one look at my battered pink cowboy hat on Thursday and said, “DC, right? Everyone’s going to Washington for something this weekend.” And we were. En masse. The number of red hats on Inaugural Day paled in comparison to the pink hats that overwhelmed Washington’s streets the day after.
Why did I go to the Washington March? This was the question I was asked most often during my four days in DC. I could have easily marched at large rallies in Oakland or San Francisco. But marching in San Francisco would have been in the same liberal company that I see every election. Somehow, this election felt life-threatening. There was an existential need to be at absolute ground zero: I wanted to see who elected this horrible human being to be our President.
More importantly, I needed to see who didn’t.
I went to DC in need of a new cast of sympathizers because this election was different, much different. It was not a democratic election. Democrats won the popular presidential vote by a large margin. Senate numbers were worse: Republican took the majority 52 seats despite receiving 23 million FEWER votes than the 48 Democrats. The privilege of inland, rural voters above urban and coastal populations misrepresents our country. In fact, it disenfranchises the majority of our citizens.
So I really wasn’t surprised when I heard gunshots blocks from the small inaugural parade on Friday. Broken glass? Cars on fire? Tear gas? Nothing new – protests are practically a weekly occurrence back home in Oakland.
But I was not prepared for Saturday. The peaceful, pink crowd that took over the Capitol was earth shattering. By 10 am, over 500,000 women from every state in the country were protesting the presidency. Pink hats were everywhere – pouring out of subways, marching down the Avenues, on the roofs, and in the buildings. The Women’s March took even DC by surprise, another city very familiar with large protests. When The March was rerouted, news crews estimated over a million people in the streets. I’ve been told The Womens’ DC March was the largest in American history. And it wasn’t a liberal crowd – it was an angry American crowd. Around the world, thousands of sister rallies reinforced the message that this election would not be condoned.
It was the inspiring rebirth of a movement for human decency.
While I stood listening with my new friends from Ohio, Michigan, and Florida, Gloria Steinem reminded us that womens’ rights were human rights. Michael Moore told us to call senators and representatives, every single day. Nasty Ashley Judd angrily sang against misogony. Kamala Harris explained why equal pay and access to health care were women issues. And Angela Davis told us to resist, resist for the next 1409 days because no human being is illegal….
About half way through the speeches, I realized why I had really come to DC. I had needed hope restored. And it was. Human decency is an American ideal, it is alive and well, despite what Fox News would have us believe. As Obama said good-bye in January, he left us with the hope of the next generation. On January 21, 2017, the Women’s March left us with hope for ours.
That’s why I – and so many thousands – went to DC.
Justice Ruth Ginsburg recently said that fixing the electoral college is our most important task. I agree. But in the meantime, we need hope. So I’m declaring January 21 as Pink Hat Day. Or maybe we could call it Pink Humanity Day? Whatever. I just want all my sisters and brothers from DC and around the world to join me next January 21, and every January 21, in donning fuzzy pink hats and remembering solidarity, women, and hope.
Note: All photos by author.