My "Women's March on Washington" Experience 1.21.17

Yesterday I marched in the Women's March in Washington D.C. where I walked until my feet fell off and photographed until my phone ran out of battery. Never before had I attended a protest, let alone marched in one. However, with the current state of our nation and the unbelievable nonsense that I have witnessed over the course of a year, I was captivated by this upcoming event and had to witness it for myself. After four hours of sleep, I got up and boarded a local bus in my hometown en route to DC. Five buses, including ours, left for a historic march at the center of our government, in front of our new presidents home. As I sat down in my seat next to my aunt at the very back of the bus, I looked ahead of the crowd, only to find forty other men and women, of all ages and races, smiling and rejoicing that this long-awaited day had finally arrived. After piling in the metro on our way to the capital, we followed the crowd towards the metropolitan streets while admiring the vast sea of signs and pink-knitted hats. 

We stood in the crowd, lining the streets of the capital and the mall, photographing and documenting this amazing event. After a few hours, the long march began, our feet already sore from the few hours spent standing, waiting, and shouting, but our day of work was not finished yet and we pressed on. As I looked around, I found myself caught in a sea of pink, happy, boastful faces, all of whom were of different nationalities, religions, genders and ages. At that moment, I felt hopeful, I felt safe, until an unsteady man ran up to me, holding a sign, our eyes meeting, his angry demeanor reflected. He waved a sign with a former female presidental candidate pictured and used the word "witch" about ten times in this twenty-second encounter with me. I kept my cool and smiled at him with my own sign, one that I was handed before the march had begun. I was surprised at how calm I remained while facing him, but I continued to remember how important it was for me to stay calm and unaffected, because that was the point of this whole march right? To gracefully, harmlessly, protest my rights and my beliefs as a citizen of my country. This short moment ignited a fire in me that I had recognized while listening to our former Secretary of State recite during her address to the public after election day on November 9, 2016. I remember how angry and defeated I felt while alone at my work desk. I remember how angry I was that out of the two candidates, our country chose the one that does not reflect our country and its beliefs. I remember my eyes tearing up as I had to listen to her words of encouragement to other women, and her reassurance that maybe one of us would have the great opportunity of becoming the first female commander and chief. All my life I continuously believed that I was just as equal to my older brothers and the men around me, but I had never felt more unequal to them that day. So when I felt this rush of fire fuel my chest, I continued to march, and like the artist I am, began to brainstorm. 

It was six o'clock and we were on the bus, my phone battery dying at 2 p.m. after all of my photographing and video coverage. I put my head back against the bus seat, my neck relieved, my feet swollen. I knew then, that this march was just the start of many more to come...

-MP

Meaghan PaigeComment