Yesterday the Women’s March took place. If the captivating images of this event are any indicator, I have no doubt I will one day teach this to my U.S. History classes. Unfortunately, my duties as a wrestling coach kept me from participating in this historic event. This left me following the march in spirit as I read posts, watched videos, and looked at photos from many of my friends in attendance. One such friend, Isabel Otero, was kind enough to put her emotions into words and provide this guest post. Her second on this blog.
I have a collection of t-shirts that tend to offend the politically Right-of-Center among us. One of these t-shirts says in big bold letters, “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” and I wear it regularly. Some days, I wear it places where people give me nasty looks, and other days I hear the hushed, “Nice shirt,” from passersby.
Marching through the streets of Atlanta with approximately 63,000 fellow Southerners, my shirt ceased to be remarkable. I found myself in a sea of “offensive” shirts and pointy pink hats that go by another name. Everywhere I looked the world unapologetically declared that Black Lives Matter, refugees are welcome, no human is illegal, love is love, science is real, and women’s rights are human rights.
[WARNING: This Picture Contains Strong Language]
This march, like any other political statement, came with its own fraught beginnings and moments. But, when I watched the crowd disperse to make a lane for Congressman John Lewis to walk at the head of the march, I felt pride. Watching little kids hold up signs as promises to be better than us in the future, I felt hope. Listening to the crowd shout, “This is what democracy looks like,” I felt the energy.
I cannot remember the last time I stood in a crowd this big. I marched in Atlanta with my family, coworkers, and with strangers of all ages, genders, ethnicities, immigration statuses, and disabilities or lack thereof.
Some of the estimates for marchers across the country are in the 3 million. The same number of people that voted for Secretary Hillary Clinton, but who ultimately lost as the latest victim of a racist system meant to give power to slave states.