Yesterday, January 21st, 2017, I decided to attend the Denver Women’s March with my cousin and a friend. I had a client assign me a small piece and decided, “What the heck, I’ll brave the cold and the crowds.” What I did not anticipate was to be entirely moved by the insane amounts of people who showed up to raise their voices.
To give a bit of context, I used our public transit system to get downtown from my home in the suburbs of Denver. There were about a hundred women already in line when I got there – something you don’t usually see when you hop on the bus here. RTD did a great job of providing extra buses to provide for this large influx of people, so hats off to them.
Once we got downtown and walked to Civic Center Park, where the rally was being held, I was shocked to see the crush of people just walking down 16th Street with their signs, their pink “cat” hats, and their big smiles. Weaving our way through the crowd at Civic Center Park, I was shocked to see the number of people – of all genders, colors, religions, and orientations – gathering already, an hour before the rally was even to start. People were singing, chanting, and laughing with one another – it was friendly, calm, and entirely positive.
Photo provided by Denver Post (I’m somewhere in the exact middle of that crowd – eek!)
Here’s a little bit about what I learned during the March:
1. “March” is a misnomer.
In Denver, it’s estimated that almost 200,000 people showed up. If you’ve ever been to Denver, you know that our downtown area is NOT built for this kind of foot traffic. If you’ve never been to Denver, I don’t recommend coming during a massive rally like the Women’s March. We stood in a massive crowd for over an hour and, when the March finally did start, we could barely move an inch at a time because of the crush of bodies trying to funnel through the streets. Long story short: it wasn’t so much a March as it was a Crawl.
But that’s not the point. The point is there were so many people sharing their opinions and hoping to effect change that we literally couldn’t get through the streets.
2. There is such a thing as a peaceful protest.
So many people gave up their time, Saturday mornings, and the feeling in their feet and hands to come out. They carried big, heavy signs and chanted for 2+ hours. They were ALL kind, courteous, and patient. Nobody rioted, nobody stomped on police cars or threw anything at windows.
I won’t lie and say I wasn’t concerned about going downtown during this fairly contentious time. I would be lying if I didn’t get a little freaked out about all the things that could go wrong in a crowd that large. But nothing bad happened. People were kind and people recognized the power of being peaceful. Changes can be made when peaceful people gather in large masses.
3. It’s very emotional to see so many people with a common purpose.
Women, men, and children all walked through the streets to say, “We want change,” and I truly believe that we’ll get it. Over a million people in D.C., hundreds of thousands in other cities around the U.S. and the world… With numbers like that, how can you not be affected? People came together to create a really beautiful moment in history.
I saw women with signs that had pictures of themselves protesting Vietnam, supporting gay rights, Roe v. Wade, and more. Women older than my grandparents who were still marching for a cause. This was truly beautiful for me, to see that there are women out there who have paved the way for my generation. It’s a bit like passing on the torch, and I was incredibly moved.
4. It was about people and their desire to see change.
I was a bit concerned, going down there, that I’d be caught up in some anti-government, anti-Trump chants that would make me uncomfortable. Instead, what I saw was women standing up for the rights of everyone and asking for the government to do the same. My favorite chant was “This is what democracy looks like!” – something I’ve heard before but never really understood.
It was a shift in my own perception of the role of government in a democracy. It was a way for me to see that the power truly lies within the people – and we’re ready to stand up and claim that power.
I don’t mean for this to be a political post or even a reflection of my own personal beliefs and values. What I want from this post is to share the impact that these peaceful rallies have on the people – and hopefully on the government. This March reaffirmed my belief in the idea that people are good, people can support one another, and we can all build each other up rather than tear each other down.
Yes, it was political. But it was highly personal, too. Those two things are inextricably connected and it’s important to recognize that.
I would also like to note that Denver city officials did an amazing job of structuring the event, keeping all of us safe, and giving us space and respect to let people support their causes.
Also, I would like to say that I hope I don’t have to attend another March that large anytime soon – it turns out, I don’t like being packed in like a sardine with thousands of other people.
BONUS- A few important tips for surviving your first rally:
- Bring water, but don’t drink too much. Port’o’Potties are in short supply.
- If you carry a sign, make sure it’s a got a stick on it or your arms will fall off.
- Don’t expect your cell phone to work in a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people.
- Have a predetermined meeting point for all the people in your group – you’re going to lose each other at some point.
- Look where you walk! Curbs come out of nowhere, I’ll tell ya.
See, I learned so much!
Until next time…