One year after the inaugural Women’s March, the message remains the same, but with an eye towards broader inclusivity and goals for the future of progressivism.
In a rally staged in front of the Lincoln Memorial Saturday morning, a sampling of the Democratic Party’s most public faces, including DNC chairman Tom Perez, Minority Leader Nancie Pelosi and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, delivered impassioned speeches calling for a broader unification of feminist interests across demographics, including women of color and the LGBTQ+ community.
The March has evolved its message from criticisms presented last year that it was focused too narrowly on a brand of feminism which privileged the voices of white women. The sharpened focus on breaching racial and gender barriers was reflected in the makeup of the crowd itself, which picketed signs signaling their own hunger for a brand of feminism that could represent all women — and their unerring distaste for the Trump administration.
The message was nakedly a celebration of progressive values and a show of opposition to a presidency widely considered hostile towards feminist ideals. A mood of optimism dominated the National Mall as participants cheered galvanizing speeches delivered over the Reflecting Pool, calling for a resurgence of the progressive left. Counter-protesters rallying for anti-abortion measures were met with indifference or subtle disruption, but divisive disagreement was largely absent at a gathering designed to unite.
Against the backdrop of a government shutdown predicated on what is essentially a hostage situation, the tone could have easily succumbed to blithe sloganeering against Republicans. Indeed, Tom Perez called on his audience to recognize the callous indifference of the conservative Congress to the needs of the constituency he was presently addressing. However, each speaker also recognized the need for restraint in an overheated political climate and were able to avoid broad overtures against the Republican voting bloc, opting instead to focus their energy on the systemic changes necessary to realize their visions.
A year into the resistance movement, this evolution in messaging is both necessary and timely. The red-hot anger that met Trump’s inauguration a year ago to the day has subsided to a simmering mix of resentment and hope. Leading into the 2018 midterms, Democrats must not only capitalize on the present backlash against the Trump administration, but must begin devising their own vision if they want to ensure long-term support from their rapidly-emerging coalition. The organizers of the March certainly recognize the need for a strategy through their new slogan, March to the Polls. Now it will be up to the Democratic leadership to figure out how to guide them there, or be left behind in the process.
All day long, the call and response of “Show me what democracy looks like — this is what democracy looks like” hung in the air. The desire to organize and create change is palpable and signals a potential sea change in November of this year.
Continue scrolling for some of my other favorite shots from the day.