It started at a dinner with a joke and a few laughs. At least one person in the room wasn’t laughing. Who knew then that he would be the person with the last laugh that would take him all the way to the Oval office. It was that fateful dinner, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011, that may have been the catalyst to pushing Donald Trump to run for the most powerful job in the world. After all, what better revenge for him, than to take the baton from the man that he felt made him look like a complete fool, I guess the joke is on us.
On November 8th at around 10 or 11PM tears began to flood down my inconsolable face as news anchor after news anchor announced that Donald Trump had won the Electoral College. I was beside myself with grief as though I had just lost my best friend. I can’t begin to explain the deep sadness that I felt. It was even worse than grieving a death. The days that followed weren’t any better. I glued myself to the news night after night as though they might change the decision and say it was all some horrible mistake. With that win, complete shock, anger, utter disappointment and an awful feeling of hopelessness set in for many who thought their next President would be Hillary Clinton.
Each day after November 8th I would pour out my anger all over my Facebook page as I had throughout this extremely divisive election. My sadness had quickly become extreme anger. “I mean, really, this is the guy that is going to be my next President!” I kept saying that over and over again to anyone who would listen. He had made fun of the disabled on television for the world to see. Had called Mexicans drug dealers and rapists. Called out the Muslim community as though they were all terrorists and let’s not begin to list the disgusting things he has said about women. Bragging about the things he can do to them just because of who he is. Then one day after one of my long Facebook rants, I had heard from a friend that women were rallying together. Women like me who were angry or depressed or sad and fearful. That was it, once I had learned of these women organizing themselves I knew I had to be part of this movement or whatever it was.
We came together and formed the RI Chapter of the Women’s March on Washington, part of the National Organization to March. We worked tirelessly together over 10 weeks to organize both the trip to March in Washington DC on January 21st, the day after the inauguration as well as to rally that same day at our local State House for those who could not make it to the DC March. I can’t begin to tell you how quickly those ten weeks passed. We used all of that angry energy and did an amazing thing in bringing this together for our little but great State. Getting the word out to as many as we could as quickly as we could. Having meetings every Sunday and more during the week when we had to tie up some loose ends in our social media or PR work and organizing volunteers for both the march and the rally but we did it, in such a short period of time. Before we knew it January 21st was upon us and we were ready to March and in Rhode Island they rallied. There were turnouts at both that not one of us expected. We broke records that day that surprised everyone.
When I got off of the bus the morning of the March at RFK Stadium there were only three buses that had arrived at that time. We all got out, grabbed our signs and took pictures to mark the day. We all had our various reasons for marching that day and our signs reflected our feelings. Some of us headed to the metro to get us to the starting point of the March and others of us decided we would rather walk. After all, it was only about two miles and we thought we would get there faster than if we had to wait for the metro with all of those people who just kept on coming. We saw some others walking there too and after a while two miles started to feel like twenty. We hadn’t realized how many streets would be blocked off forcing us in different directions making the two miles more like three or four. When we finally arrived to the area where the stage was set it was overwhelming to see how many people had already gathered. As we started to move through the crowd to try to find the rest of our Rhode Island group the further we walked up Independence Avenue the less able we were to maneuver through the crowd. We held hands so that we wouldn’t lose anyone. It would have been easy to lose someone in a crowd of that size.
More and more people kept on coming. There were signs everywhere, some very serious, some funny and even more downright hysterical. When we finally reached the rest of our Rhode Island contingent it was really breathtaking to just stand there in the street and take it all in. Millions of pink hats filled the crowd with their banners and signs. All of us, standing together in solidarity with so much hope and love in our hearts for each other. People we didn’t even know became our sisters and brothers that day. We stood in the middle of thousands of men and women1.5 million strong we learned later. In our peaceful protest, our voices became heard as we let this new administration know, we are here, we are strong and we rise to fight for what we hold dear.
After we marched that day and returned to our hotel, people were talking about what they were seeing on the news. How people had come together all over the world. Not only were there marches and rallies all over this already great country but in other countries all over the world as well. What we all did that day has now made history as the biggest march on Washington DC and biggest protest, ever! Looking back now, I am in awe of what we all accomplished in so little time that has now made a footprint in our history.
January 21st came and went so quickly and our fight continues. We knew that day would be just the beginning of a continued effort to keep our Constitution and all that we love about this country intact. One week after our March we kept on meeting. We rested for a few days but knew the work had to continue and so it does. First we marched, now we huddle into our smaller groups of action. There are new actions every day. Post cards have been sent to our Senators about issues that are important to us, we attend rallies and meetings on subjects we feel passionate about making sure our voices are heard at each and every one. From the first Executive Order being signed to this very day, we are ready to make phone calls, attend town hall meetings with our Congressional leaders, keep marching and rallying at a moment’s notice. We have organized an action network that is becoming better equipped to run this country than this new administration is. Each of us knows we can count on each other to keep the fight going. We’ve created something that first came from anger, fear and sadness and have turned it into our passion in caring for our friends, neighbors and communities. When some are tired and need rest, others of us will stand in their place to keep our voices loud and clear. This has to continue. This administration has given us no choice. The continued efforts are so critical. We know we must keep our voices loud, united and strong so that when we come out of this in four years we will still have a country that we recognize, love and can be proud of.