Editor’s Note: Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner is executive director and co-founder of MomsRising.org. She is speaking at the Women’s March on Washington. The views expressed are her own.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner: Many women of all ages and backgrounds are marching
This march and others are a battle cry, and people are answering the call, she says
The Women’s March on Washington started as a trickle, then turned into a wave and then grew into a tsunami. Here’s where it started: On Election Night, thousands of Hillary Clinton supporters at the Javits Center in New York stood cheering, buoyed by the polls, even before the final vote tallies came in.
Silence crept through the massive room as the vote returns finally appeared on jumbotrons on the walls. People pulled up calculator apps on their phones to see if somehow, some way the states could add up to victory. When the calculations came back, they stood looking at the intact glass ceiling above like it betrayed them, waiting for a crack, an explanation. But that didn’t happen. I was there with my daughter waiting, too. You could hear a pin drop.
It was a runaway, unexpected, complete Electoral College victory by Donald Trump, a man with a history of brushing off saying things such as “grab them by the pussy” about women. Meanwhile, Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. But while the glass ceiling didn’t shatter that night, something else cracked open. As Leonard Cohen wrote, “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
The idea of the march was born on Facebook in the aftermath of Clinton’s loss, and it is now bringing women together across our nation through more than 600 local “sister” marches and one massive march in Washington that could exceed the attendance of the Trump inauguration. To be clear, the Electoral College win was nowhere near a mandate. Losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, as Trump did, means there is no basis on which to claim a mandate. The election, though, did serve as a wake-up call for many on a number of levels:
1. Every vote matters. Our recent election had the lowest voter turnout in 20 years.
2. Take nothing, no right for granted. The civil rights page on the White House disappeared the moment our new President took office.
3. Stay close to your friends to organize, knit change and hold elected officials accountable. That “grab them by the pussy” statement by Trump? He’s now being held accountable. Hundreds of thousands of women are now knitting, wearing and sharing #PussyHats as they march.
Here’s what some of the many MomsRising members who are attending have to say about why they are marching:
“As a Latina, public school teacher, head of household and social advocate I must be part of the resistance. We will make our voices heard! We will make changes for us and future generations.” – Andrea from Florida
“Three generations from our family will be marching – this is a historical moment. Never has it seemed so imperative to speak out and be counted. No longer willing to be part of a silent majority!” – Linda from Washington
“A bunch of my neighbors and friends are going. My family made some Trump puppets. We plan to bring the puppets and carry signs that say ‘Not My Puppet.’ Some of us are marching to keep the (Affordable Care Act) in place. For me, it was the Trump tweets against John Lewis. He went way too far. I am outraged. Which line will he cross next?” – Anne from California
“As a 69-year-old black woman I must march to preserve the benefits we received from marching and protesting for civil rights. I have daughters and a granddaughter who need the opportunities that the incoming administration and their state and local cronies are vowing to destroy. I will take my medications, dress appropriately and join other women and our supporters to show the world that we will not sit quietly and let others control our voices, our bodies and our futures.” – Sheila from Virginia
“At the Women’s March on Washington, I’ll be a mom rising in several ways: I’m attending with my daughter, and she’s pregnant with the next generation.” – Nancy from Wisconsin
“With the enthusiasm of a grandmother (I am 73) and a granddaughter (Maggie is 12) to share an adventure, we will board a bus in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Friday morning, attempt to sleep along the way, arrive in DC and march. Then we will re-board the bus and repeat the attempts to sleep, to return to Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. We march for those in our family tree who could not vote, we march for the protection of young women, which my granddaughter will be sooner than later; we march for the poor and the powerless, the voiceless and the voter! Thank you for asking for our story.” – Barbara from Minnesota
“My autistic son and I will virtually march in solidarity, because, ‘Until all are free, none are free!’ (MLK Jr.) #WhyIMarch” -- Jessica from Tennessee
“We will be marching in Fairbanks, Alaska, despite 40 below temperatures because we care. We care about human rights, we care about women’s rights, we care about LGBT rights, we care about health care as a human right, we care about our environment and how we leave the planet for our grandchildren, we care about Social Security, we care about justice for all, we care about black lives, we care about immigrants, we care about refugees. We care!” – Kathy from Alaska
“I’m 62 years old and I’ve never protested anything before. However, I’ll be joining my neighbors in Asheville, North Carolina, to make the point that our president does not have a mandate, rather his immaturity is scaring even people like me into action.” – Sherrie from North Carolina
My 101-year-old grandma fought for women’s rights with the same fierce determination that led her to take driving lessons on her 95th birthday – 18-wheeler truck driving lessons, wearing kitten heels. My great grandma and mom fought for women’s rights, too. And my son and daughter are marching Saturday. Our nation is generations into this fight. And we’re absolutely not turning back now.
The march is a release valve, an avenue to be heard, a rallying cry. And people are answering each other’s call, bringing voices together, many for the first time through friends telling friends until this historic march was born.