A woman holds a sign which reads, “ Jesus wept, but he also… flipped tables,” at the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., on January 21, 2017 (Photo credit: Peter M. Graham)

The difference one woman can make

By the Rev. Dr. Marilyn P. Turner-Triplett

I had been indecisive about attending the Women’s March on Washington. Although my family had agreed to gather at their Maryland home and march together, I was not so sure.

I had been thinking about what, in retrospect, seem like trivial issues. Weather — outside all day in what might be frigid temperatures. Attendance — I loathe crowds. Moreover, information on the march website was so sparse that I questioned whether it would even happen. Safety — under an administration eager to put forth alternative facts is an increasing intolerance for expressing alternative points of view. As a black woman in America, I have tasted the bitter, often dangerous, fruits of xenophobia. Inclusion — would the march be inclusive of issues pertinent to women of color? Diverse leadership was, after all, only a relatively recent addition to the planning.

Besides, what difference could one woman make?

Everything changed for me with receipt of a text from my daughter-in-love, telling the story of her college friend. Her friend had been yelled at and called a “dirty Mexican b — -h,” while walking through Union Station.

As she retells it:

“What was I doing?” you may wonder. Walking to my train from a day of work in our nation’s capital the day before the inauguration. I wish I could say I had some witty response, but, in that moment, I was paralyzed by fear. What do you do when a tall, heavy-set man gets in your path with his bright red “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” hat and T-shirt with a picture of Mr. Obama hanging from a tree, and screams obscenities at you? You stop. You cower. You pray for the intervention of a good Samaritan. No history book prepares you for an encounter like this — not because racism doesn’t exist, but because, until recently, it hid under the veil of passive-aggressive double-talk, deniability and the “post-racial America” theory.
I carried no sign; instead, I wore my clergy stole filled with multicultural images of smiling children.

My daughter-in-love’s friend had asked the inescapable question for us all: “What do you do?” So, in that moment, I committed to the march. I carried no sign; instead, I wore my clergy stole filled with multicultural images of smiling children. I marched for the children — for my 2-year-old granddaughter, a bright, beautiful African American/Latina who knows only that she is loved and surrounded by family and friends who encourage her to love God, others and herself. I marched for rural, urban and suburban children shackled by spiritually, emotionally and physically impoverished support systems simply because of the circumstances of their birth.

Ultimately, this clergy stole wearing, Jesus loving, Holy Spirit-filled Baptist preaching woman joined hands with hundreds of thousands of others marching for justice, tolerance and a clean environment.

I marched with three generations of my family, including my Islamic grandniece who, infected by the joyful spirit of community permeating the march, danced about in the pink “Girl Power” T-shirt she had designed with her business owning Islamic mother and community volunteer Islamic grandmom. Ultimately, this clergy stole wearing, Jesus loving, Holy Spirit-filled Baptist preaching woman joined hands with hundreds of thousands of others marching for justice, tolerance and a clean environment.

Because one woman can make a big difference.


The Rev. Dr. Marilyn P. Turner-Triplett is an associate executive director at American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

The views expressed are those of the author or authors alone, and not those of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies.