Democratic View: Marching strong together

Seventy-one days of planning, 450 members, 62 signs, 275 riders, 13 travel hours, and 6.5 miles on foot — all part of our mission to spend some quality time standing in solidarity with 500,000 of our closest friends. Well, we believed we’d be standing with 200,000 people — we picked up an extra 300,000 on the way.

When the election results came in, my co-organizer, Jessica Mancini, and I, like so many across America, watched the news in horror. The next 24 hours were filled with a palpable sense of fear and powerlessness. And then we saw the first Facebook post about a Women’s March on Washington, to stand up and send the message to the new administration on day one, that women’s rights are human rights. It was decided then; we were heading to D.C., and we were taking Ridgefield with us.

On march day, as we loaded 275 people onto five buses in the dark, everyone was electrified, and ready to go. With the help of seven volunteer bus captains, we reiterated safety information, handed out emergency phone contact lists, took roll call, and, at 2:52 a.m., we headed south.

When we arrived, and started walking toward the rally point, many worried about counter-demonstrations. But we quickly realized there was nothing to fear. Not only did our attendance far surpass that of the inauguration, but everyone seemed, frankly, happy! Strangers were smiling and talking to one another, hugging, and laughing. Folks stepped aside to let larger groups pass without becoming separated. Police officers and soldiers shook marchers’ hands and posed for pictures. Groups standing on walls and barriers sang “This Land Is Your Land” while we all joined in. Teenaged boys held signs that said, “I March for my Mom!” My own teenaged daughter lifted her “super-annoying” 10-year-old brother onto a partition, and taught him to use the camera to record the crowd moving toward us, while she held him up.

The rally speakers were moving and inspiring; celebrities, moms who lost their sons to gun violence, activists and politicians, Madonna! But more than any word that was said, poem that was read or song that was sung, the act of coming together en masse was everything. Standing up to this president, and the dangerous people he is putting in place, to say that we will not go away — we will not watch as he strips away the rights we hold so dear — that was our common purpose. The march showed us how formidable we can be. And that is how we will continue to be. We have so much work ahead of us, but I’m not as frightened by that as I was before the march, because it showed me, when we stand together, we stand strong.

The author, a co-organizer of the Ridgefield chapter of the Women’s March, a human rights movement unaffiliated with any political party, wrote this piece at the invitation of the Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee, which provides this column.