Wayne State University – Detroit, Michigan, Wendy Applebaum
4,000 people marched at Wayne State University on Saturday, January 20th to protect women’s rights. It may not have been the largest march in Michigan as there were 11,000 in Ann Arbor and 8,000 in Lansing, but it was a wonderful show of support.
“I haven’t been involved in this type of demonstration since the two Washington marches I attended in the 90s,” said Wendy Applebaum, a Michigan social worker. “I never thought I’d have to protest these same issues again. I’m proud to say, my oldest daughter, Lissa marched in two protests today spending the morning in Pacifica California and the night time demonstration in San Francisco. My other daughter, Emma attended the one in Ann Arbor.”
Kelley McNabb – Lansing, Michigan
Love. That is what I felt. Surrounded by people of all race and gender and religion, we marched on our Capitol city, and gathered peacefully. We came prepared for a fight. My people and I came with bandanas in case of tear gas and our loved ones phone numbers written on our arms just in case.
Instead of hate, we found acceptance and understanding and a fierce sense of empowerment. I cannot tell you how changed I am from that day. There was none of the expected nay-sayers. Instead there were people with free hugs signs and the local drag community came out to tell everyone they were fabulous, and signs hung in the windows of the state building across the road telling us that that particular representative stands with us. I am proud to say that our march on the Capitol of Lansing, was met with smiles and comfort and understanding.
Chicago – Ginger Lane
I am SO PROUD and stand in solidarity with my 250,000 sisters. I’m standing up for our rights our dignity our Humanity. The turnout in Chicago was so enormous we couldn’t even march! Michigan Avenue had to be shut down because we took it over. Traffic throughout downtown was completely snarled as we inched our way around barriers, bicycles, strollers and police. Fabulous music and speakers flooded and inspired the crowd to feelings of power and togetherness. United we can do incredible things. What a marvelous event.
Chicago – Suzanne Magnuson
A number of Splash reporters attended the Women’s March in Chicago. I was among them. It was originally estimated that the march would be 20,000, which soon doubled to 40,000 as of 1/20. On the actual day of the March 250,000 of my fellow citizens from all over Chicagoland and the United States descended on Michigan Avenue. It was so crowded that no one could actually march. We sort of stood around and talked to each other a lot. Where we were, we never got anywhere near the speakers. But we saw a LOT of great, concerned citizens who wanted to express their displeasure and make their voices heard.
The march was entirely peaceful and incredibly family-friendly, with children of all ages from babies in strollers to little protestors with signs to teenaged girls wearing their fandom proudly and gaining inspiration from it.
I also think one of the most telling and remarkable moments of the march was when a firetruck started its siren and had to get down Michigan Avenue, which was absolutely packed with protestors. Without a word being said to anyone, and with no one directing traffic, protestors who were already jammed in like sardines very quickly cleared a path for the firetruck and they were able to move down the road without impediment of any kind. I didn’t get a photo, because I was getting out of the way like everyone else, but this is what had to clear to get them through.
And we did it, immediately. Because this is what civic-minded, unselfish people do.
This needs to be just the beginning of our civic engagement on the issues that matter to us. We need to be heard and we need to resist policies that harm our fellow citizens. From human rights, to net neutrality, everything that makes us a free and open society is now under attack. And we must do all we can to fight it and support those who will fight it by becoming engaged locally and getting good people into our government. People who truly represent us.
Chicago – Judith Singer
Exiting a Blue Line station beneath Dearborn Street in anticipation of slipping easily into Grant Park to join in with an expected crowd of 50,000 marchers, I found myself surprised to come to a standstill long before I even reached Michigan Avenue. The crowd ahead, waving more signs than I could easily count, blended into the massive sea of people just barely visible beyond the rise on Van Buren. A half hour later, my friends and I had managed to merge into the mostly unmoving crowd on Michigan, where we stood for two hours, snapping shots of especially creative and meaningful signs, chatting with the people around us, enjoying the almost supernaturally beautiful weather, and waiting patiently to take our collective messages of intent, will and unity through the Loop. To be seen and heard. While we waited, the march became a gathering.
No shouts of violent insurrection spoiled the mood of kindness and cooperation – although I suppose if we’d known then how many damaging steps our new POTUS would take to quickly undo some of the foundational protections our federal government supports, we might have thought differently – it was instead a calm, rational gathering of folks from all walks of life, showing our strength in visible numbers; a quarter-million we now know.
We had no way of knowing the official march had been canceled because there were just too many of us, but we all moved onto Jackson Boulevard anyway, slowly making progress westbound, waving at El passengers and sign-wielding onlookers from windows above, and joining in chants supportive of a broad array of human rights. We were warned to be on the lookout for anarchist insurgents, but we saw none.
It’s only been four days and I already feel hopelessly naïve about what we thought we could accomplish with a single march against the narcissism of people utterly immune to the concerns of others, but what began that day was a larger movement of genuine grassroots politicking, motions toward more women running for local office, and renewed zeal for putting pressure on our elected officials to represent the needs of their constituents rather than a tiny handful of wealthy interests.
Photos provided by Wendy Applebaum, Kelly Chenault, Melissa Hill, Ginger Lane, Suzanne Magnuson and Judith Singer.