NASHVILLE — Jack Evans and Jake Gold

Elizabeth Davidson is 66 years old. She protested the Vietnam War and Kent State shootings in the 70’s. She started a family in ‘85. She beat leukemia in 2016. And just under two weeks ago, on Jan. 21, 2017, she helped to organize the Nashville Women’s March.

“I am marching, myself, personally, because I do believe that love Trumps hate,” said Davidson. “But in particular, because I don’t want to be afraid, but I am fearful because a man who knows nothing about politics, which is, you know, a job, is the president. And I’ve said this to many people: ‘You wouldn’t hire a plumber to fill your teeth.’”

Despite her age, she is bright-eyed and dressed in a t-shirt, jeans and a pussyhat. She spent the morning armed with clipboards and petitions before ultimately joining the flow of the crowd and shouting along with the throngs of marchers.

The event in Nashville was a single protest in a nationwide campaign that involved as many as 4.6 million marchers, according to University of Connecticut professor Jeremy Pressman.

Near Davidson stood another organizer, Tavia Garland. Garland worked with Davidson’s same enthusiasm in registering fellow marchers to volunteer for other activist causes. The main difference: Garland has never marched before.

“I’ve been lucky,” she said. “All of my 20s and 30s so far, the administration that was in office was back behind us and I felt like everything we wanted was kind of happening so I haven’t had to.”

“But now…” she trailed off.

Garland wasn’t alone. Mixed in with veteran protesters, like Davidson, were other activists completely new to this political process. The newcomers’ reasons for protesting varied greatly. Garland got involved “as a woman, interested in pro-choice.” Several others came to defend science. One very vocal neophyte marched to “impeach the cheeto.”

The marchers all seemed to share one common sentiment.

“I plan on being in this for at least the next four years,” Garland said. “And it’s going to be a long four years.”

 

CINCINNATI —  Ruby Cribbet

My feet ached, my arms burned, my throat was raw… and my heart was full. I was feeling all of this and more as I came to the end of the Women’s Solidarity March in Cincinnati on Saturday, Jan. 21. With me, I brought two women that I lived with and picked up another close friend from the bus station. So, when I arrived—slightly late—to the rally preceding the march, I felt strong with three amazing women at my side. We carried two signs: “Well-behaved women seldom make history” and “keep your tiny hands off our rights!” While we listened to poets, activists and allies speak on behalf of the rights and power of women, my friends and I were extremely amused to read all of the signs around us, our favorite being “This Pussy Bites Back.” What inspired me most, however, was the diversity I saw in the crowd around me: all races, genders and social classes were here. Moms and dads, hipsters and businesspeople. And when we all marched, each of these beautifully individual people chanting the same thing: “Love Trumps Hate. Love Trumps Hate.” I have never felt so empowered, so loved. So I cherished my aching limbs and hoarse voice by the end. This is what the world needs, peaceful, powerful statements of strength. I implore my peers, and all citizens of the United States—and the world—to please take a lesson from this movement: love will always be more formidable than hate or violence, and we are always stronger unified than divided.

 

BOSTON — Maddie LaPlante-Dube

We had been walking, cheering and rallying for about three hours in the Boston Women’s March by the time we reached the Park Street Church. We were running on a high of surprising positivity – while the rally was vehement in its political position (inclusivity), there was no violence at the march. Instead, people were laughing, holding fists in the air, walking in solidarity.

Earlier that morning, Massachusetts’ Attorney General Maura Healey stood on stage, declaring to the White House defiantly, “The message from the people of Massachusetts is: We’ll see you in court!” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, “We are here! We will not be silent!” We used their words as fuel.

Up in the bell tower of Park Street Church, we could see a pair of hands were pulling ropes, ringing the bells manually. As we rounded the corner, the person in the bell tower began to play the national anthem.

Then, the most beautiful thing: the crowd began to sing along. It started as a small whisper — everyone was hoarse from cheering — but as the bells rang disjointedly and the bell ringer shuffled through his sheet music, the singing swelled. It did something to the crowd: we slowed our walk, we looked up, we sang shyly, filled with pride. And when we sang “Land of the free / home of the brave,” everyone began to cheer.

The past election year — and indeed, this first week or so post-inauguration — has filled me with doubt about the future of this country. But in that moment, singing with over 175,000 people, I was proud to be American. I was proud to be from Boston. And I’ll keep walking, fighting, donating and working so long as the rights of Americans and aspiring citizens are threatened.

 

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