Just after 7am, the line waiting to enter the North Hollywood Metro station was already more than one hundred people deep. My colleague Tim Obeck and I were en route to Pershing Square in Downtown LA. We were heading there with the intention to document the Women’s March Los Angeles. Pussy hats and signs crammed the entire corridor leading up to the train. By the time we packed Downtown bound train, a handful of short-lived chants were ringing out through the halls of the station.
I personally come from a background as a documentarian/street photographer. So when I heard the estimate that 50,000 to 80,000 people were expected to attend, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to document what promised to be both an important moment in our nation’s history, as well as that of Los Angeles. However, what I could not have been prepared for was trying to document an event nearly ten times that size.
With the streets of Downtown so tightly packed with people, we could barely move amongst the waves of crowds. Attempting to capture photos and video that could contextualize the size and scope of the rally presented a daunting challenge. For my part, I focused on capturing stills and conducting interviews, while I trusted Obeck, a cinematographer, to capture video. To both standardize the process as well as create an opportunity to show the diversity of both people and issues on hand, we made the decision to ask all our subjects the same six questions.
- Can you describe yourself in five words?
- What specifically brought you here today?
- What is the greatest challenge women in America face today?
- If you were going to have a call to action for people who want to get involved, what would it be?
- Do you consider yourself a feminist?
- What does feminism mean to you?
What came out of these questions were a range of thoughts, insights and concerns from a diverse group of people participating in solidarity for a right I hold most dear; the right to freedom of speech.
For the opening title to our short film, we utilized the answers to the question, “Can you describe yourself in five words?” as the source material for the text. Below are portraits of those who participated alongside quotes they provided to lick the audio player below to hear all our participants tell us who they are in their own words.
“I haven’t seen such a huge movement in my time, and I wanted to be part of it.”
“Being the father of a daughter, it’s very important to me that my little girl has the same opportunities everyone else has as she grows up.”
“We’re all here to get respect.”
“Our country needs to wake up to these issues. By protesting, hopefully they’ll realized we will not tolerate this.”
“Everything we have fought for…has all been washed away. It’s like we have to start from the beginning.”
“I’m 70, I don’t have to worry anymore, but I worry about all you guys getting ahead. That’s what America’s about, and it’s under threat.”
“I do worry about Women’s Issues. It’s not the government’s right to decide whether we can have an abortion or not, regardless of it you believe in it or not.”
“I currently live in a community where not many people share my beliefs. So I’m here to stand with other people from all over, so we can stand against what we believe is wrong.”
“It feels like we are taking a couple steps back, when we should be taking steps forward.”
“I think there’s a repetitive nature to the way women are treated. I think for a lot of women it hasn’t occurred to them that they deserve better.”
“Feminism to me is not a dirty word.”
“We can do more then just have babies, and lead our families. We [women] can lead our country.”