“This is my country. This is our country. And I’m old enough to know that change can come from us, and must come from us.” — Erica Eisdorfer
On January 21, 2017, millions of people around the world marched in solidarity in response to the election of Donald J. Trump, with thousands traveling to D.C. on privately chartered buses from all over the country.
University of Connecticut professor Jeremy Pressman and University of Denver faculty member Erica Chenoweth created a google spreadsheet to allow people to document rough estimates of marches.
Even low estimates include over 3 million marchers in over 600 cities in the United States, making this potentially the largest protest in the nation’s history and an unprecedented response to an incoming president.
When she first heard that there was going to be a march in Washington, D.C., Eisdorfer, a bookseller who lives in Carrboro, N.C., grabbed her credit card and called US Coachways.
“I put a notice on Facebook, and I don’t know how many people responded. Dozens and dozens and dozens,” she said.
The bus, carrying 49 passengers, left Chapel Hill, N.C., at 4 a.m. Saturday morning and stopped outside the metro in Alexandria, V.A., where the group boarded the tightly-packed train headed to downtown D.C.
Over the course of his election campaign, Donald Trump drew controversy for his comments on sexual assault, people with disabilities, immigrants, Muslims, and the LGBTQIA community. According to the mission statement of the Women’s March, the event served to connect these issues under the belief that women’s rights are human rights.
Lucia Drinkwalter, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, rode on the bus with Eisdorfer. As a Colombian-American woman, Drinkwalter said she felt it was important for her to march as a member of a minority group.
“I knew that it was going to be a lot of older white women, and that only made me want to go more.” She also said she thought it was important for white women to be at the march. “White women did elect Trump into office — they were a huge portion of the people who voted for him. It is the job of white women to show up to these things and demand better from him.”
Drinkwalter said, “In the days after the election, there were so many hate crimes, and they were happening in my town, in my neighborhood.”
She said she thought the march served to speak against general attitudes of hatred, but also, “there are smaller messages that every person going to the march carries with them.”
Kate Torrey, who distributed pink hats on the bus, has been involved with the Women’s Movement since the 1960s.
“I never thought we would be re-fighting a lot of those battles, but here we are,” she said. “It’s exciting to see a multigenerational group like this one getting together around issues of deep concern to women, so if progress is slow, so be it — as long as it’s progress.”
Eisdorfer marched with her 19-year-old daughter, Charlotte Deming. “She’s my co-captain,” Eisdorfer said.
“It feels right to be going with (my mom), because she taught me my values,” Deming said. “Also because she and I are both warriors and planners.”
Deming said, “I hope that, long-term, people will not give up hope. Things are bad right now, but they don’t always have to be this way.”