“We are here because we have come a long way, but also have a long way to go… And we are here to say we are not going back,” declared Mariama White-Hammond, a climate change and social justice activist on Jan. 21, the day when people across the globe marched in protest of Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Nearly eightfold the Boston Women’s March for America’s original projection gathered on the Boston Common, a hallmark of the city of Boston. Women, women of color, indigenous people, and members of the Muslim community dominated the organization of the Boston Women’s March and rallied protesters preceding the march itself. With the voices of marginalized communities – whose subjection to the Donald Trump administration – at the forefront of the Boston Women’s March, the occasion succeeded in bringing agency in a time of deep insecurity.
Civil servants and national organizations acted as guiding forces for protesters on the Common, addressing challenges that will arise from the Trump administration and assuring the public of their capacity to oppose the president within their respective fields. One of the most established speakers of the Boston Women’s March was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who, introduced by Mayor Marty Walsh, was eagerly received by protesters on the Common. A Democrat from Massachusetts and champion for liberals of all stripes, Warren spoke on issues representatives will push in the coming years of a Republican-controlled Congress and White House. They included social equality, climate change, marriage equality, the wage gap and protecting unions.
Like Warren, Attorney General Maura Healey spoke of her commitment to opposing Trump within her area of expertise. She had strong words for the president, promising “[the people’s law firm] will see you in court” if and when faced with unjust legislation. Alongside civil servants, representatives of the Boston branches of national organizations such as the NAACP and the ACLU took to the stage at the Boston’s Women March on the Common, affirming their organizations’ missions to protect civil liberties.
After the scheduled speakers and performers concluded, the beginning of march itself challenged the resiliency of the cause. Shoulder to shoulder, the protesters, having stood watching scheduled programming for several hours, were faced with an unfortunate predicament. As the Common was ill equipped to hold mass numbers of protesters, filing out of the Common and onto the march route would take hours. The discomfort of the procession out of the Common left protesters disgruntled and the excitement ensued by the rally dissipated for some, bringing into question the strength of activism when personal comfort is threatened.
Although some protesters questioned their commitment to marching against Trump and his ideals, many found their spirits lifted by the energy and sense of community they encountered when they finally reached the march.
“I felt very affected by the crowd’s positivity, especially because so many people were in attendance,” said Sofija Chroneos, a Boston University freshman who attended the march. “It was heartening to experience the crowd’s unified spirit while also knowing that people around the globe were also showing their support.”
The route of the march started on the Common and covered sections of Beacon Street, Arlington Street, Commonwealth Avenue, and Boylston Street before returning to and finishing on the Common. As they marched, many protesters held signs with bold statements and designs. A popular theme among protesters was in reference to the misogyny which permeated Trump’s presidential campaign. The phrase “nasty woman,” uttered by Trump in regard to HIllary Clinton during the final presidential debate, was omnipresent. In the form of clothing, signs and chants, women claimed Trump’s words for their own by twisting the intended harm into a mark of levity and feminism.
Protesters also rejected the President’s language of sexual assault, specifically the 2005 tape of Trump telling “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush of his kissing women against their will and “[grabbing] them by the pussy.” Intended to reflect Trump’s crass and aggressive language in regard to female genitalia, a pink, knitted hat with points shaped like cat ears was a ubiquitous accessory among female protesters. Strong in numbers and through recognitions of a woman’s right to dictate her reproductive health, male protesters proved to be loyal allies at the Boston Women’s March. A call and response chant reverberated across the crowd with men chanting “her body” and women responding “my choice.”
The Women’s March in Washington and sister marches across the world successfully galvanized over one million in protest of Trump’s inauguration, but will the momentum of the march be maintained over the next four years? From the voices propelling the crowd at the pre-march rally to the voices united in defiance of the newly inaugurated President Trump, the message of the Boston Women’s March was loud and clear.
Civil servants, activists, and citizens of Massachusetts promise to criticize and fight against the Trump administration in full force from the inauguration to the conclusion of the President’s term. And, most of all, they appear to have the stamina to do so.