It was unlike anything Gloria Steinem had ever seen before, and she’s seen a lot. The grandmother of modern feminism, who organized countless women’s rights demonstrations and attended civil rights marches in the ’60s and ’70s, said that the Women’s March on Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration was the largest and most energized activist turnout she’d ever seen.
“This is the other side of the downside,” Steinem said in her speech to the pink-hatted crowd Saturday. “This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life.”
Nearly 500,000 people descended on Washington D.C. on day one of the Trump presidency, to register their opposition to the newly inaugurated president and defend women’s rights, racial justice and immigrants. Experts say the crowd was three times bigger than the Inauguration crowds the day before, and you didn’t need an arial photo to see the difference. On Inauguration morning, I was easily able to escape the crowds, walk the streets, and get a seat on the Metro for myself (and my purse). On the day of the March, I had to wait for four stuffed Metro trains to come and go before I could squeeze myself in among the protesters.
I talked to dozens of marchers of all ages throughout the cold and dreary day. I saw women holding homemade signs with slogans like “ImPEEch,” “Pussy Power” and “We are the Granddaughters of the Witches You Could Not Burn.” I saw women dressed as suffragists, a man with a sequined beard and an adorable little girl dressed as the Statue of Liberty. People chanted “No Hate, No Fear, Everyone is Welcome Here” and “Long Live Ruth,” referring to legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. People held hands and made friends with strangers and shared water bottles and granola bars with kids who were getting grouchy in the cold.