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The estimated 470,000 marchers at the Women’s March on Washington came from all over the world, and with countless messages. Frances Leibovich, a 9-year-old fourth grader, and Judith Plotz, a 78-year-old English professor at GW, share their perspectives here. Frances was among the youngest marchers, and Judith among the oldest. Both live here in the District. — Noa Rosinplotz
Franny Leibovich, Age 9 (As told to Noa Rosinplotz)
I would like to tell you people about the Women’s March on Washington. I am a Hillary supporter and I was very disappointed when she lost. After she lost, I felt very, very angry. I think Donald Trump is gross. I was excited to go to the Women’s March because it was a chance to show my power.
I did not know what the March would be like before I got there. I went with my family and my cousins. When I first got there, it was very pink because everyone was wearing pink hats, including me. I saw many awesome signs, like one with a uterus giving the finger. My own sign said, “I Am Valuable, I Am Powerful, I Am Deserving, I Am a Little Girl,” which is from one of Hillary Clinton’s speeches. We got the best seats in the house. We were in front of the first Jumbotron and we could hear it all. I liked the speech by the little girl, Sophie, who is six years old and stood on stage with her family.
It was very, very crowded. I could barely move. We listened to speeches for five and a half hours. It was sort of boring, but it was also great to be there. When the speeches were finally over, we started to march, except it was like the beginning of a marathon where you barely start moving. My family took a shortcut and got back to the march 15 minutes later. By then it was halfway over. We went farther than the Trump Hotel. I even started a chant: “Women’s Rights are Human Rights!”
After the march, I was super duper excited and I will remember that day forever. We walked to get some ice cream, and that’s where my dad picked us up. I hope this will be the last women’s rights march I will ever have to go to.
Judith Plotz, Age 78
With a million friends, Rachel, Ava and I went to the Mall on Saturday to take our post-inauguration constitutional. After our bad day on Friday, we wanted to stretch our legs and raise our spirits and voices. We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.
In my 50 years in Washington, I’ve marched many marches on the Mall, but Women’s March of Jan. 21, 2017 was the most moving and inspiring.
Although we tried to reach the Mall in time to hear the speakers, by the time we got there—a little past 10 a.m.—there was no chance of getting anywhere near the stage or even getting a glimpse of one of the Jumbotrons. We walked and slipped and sidled among other marchers from (according to our impromptu survey) Australia, Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, Arizona, Texas, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Appalachia, Kansas, Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Maryland. None of them could see anything either, but they all had interesting stories of why they were there.
The notables on the distant stage were invisible to us except through the jubilant mediation of two women astride traffic lights and six teenagers high in trees who intermittently signaled that a new speaker or singer had appeared. But it didn’t matter to us on the ground that the official center was invisible. We were experiencing the march through a thousand different centers, each of which expressed a different form of protest and solidarity in much the same spirit. The decentered nature of the march—both as we stood under the tree by the National Museum of the American Indian, then walked around the Mall, and later walked various routes west towards the White House—was the glory of the occasion.
You could see the spirit of the March in the signs they carried. These deserve a book in themselves, as imaginative, touching, impassioned, whimsical, rude, hilarious, visionary, and creative signs of protest:
beautiful Lady Liberty with her head in her hands
“‘Thou shalt not mess with women’s reproductive organs.’ Fallopians 1:21”
“There is no Planet B”
“Make America Smart Again”
“I’m with her & her & her & her & her & her…”
“No human being is illegal”
“Revolution is not a one-time event”
“We are the noisy majority”
The spirit was also evident in rolling bouts of exuberant chanting, which mostly felt impromptu. As my group marched past Trump’s hotel, someone raised the cry, “Pay your bills! Pay your bills!” Throughout the afternoon, some groups would call out, “We are women!” and evoke our response of “Hear us roar!” and more jeeringly, “Can’t build a wall/Hands too small.”
The key chants, repeated all afternoon, all over the Mall, were the call and response refrains: “What does America look like? This is what America looks like!” and “What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like!”
For those few hours on Saturday among the marchers, I felt that this indeed was what democracy looked like. What did it look like? It looked inventive; it looked improvisational; it looked unified; it looked feminist; it looked unfinished; it looked energetic. And it looked very determined.