I’m not sure I’ll ever have the words to convey the visceral realization of the power of numbers when you’re standing in the thick of them.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I awoke on Saturday with a dash of cynicism I couldn’t shake with coffee. I wasn’t sure if everyone was marching for the right reasons or if the marching would be enough. I was dragging. But by the time the sun set on Grand Central Station and I found myself walking alongside the Man Repeller community through a cacophony of chants — “Fascist laws, we don’t need ’em, we want reproductive freedom!” layered over the call-and-response, “Show me what democracy looks like / This is what democracy looks like!” — my petty concerns seemed distant. A mere symptom of the apathy the march set out to protest. The air was thick with love and anger, an electrifying antidote to the poisonous draw of hopelessness.
I was not alone, in fact I’ve never been less so. The Women’s March is estimated to be the largest protest in US history with around 3.3 million people walking in Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and cities all over the country and even world. Swaths of people came to fight for equality and progress, a future that thrives on love and inclusion instead of hate and nostalgia. The crowds were unprecedented.
— swah-rey (@swahrey) January 21, 2017
“The hats, a sea of pink is what I’ll remember,” 21-year-old artist Kalif told photographer Simon Chetrit. Chetrit was in DC with his camera on Saturday, photographing the climate and talking to some of the people about why they were marching and how they were feeling.
“His way of making America great again wouldn’t be good for most people,” nine-year-old marcher Sydney told him, quite astutely. She was not the only first-time protestor, plenty said this past year mobilized them like never before.
“Before I had the luxury of being removed. But my voice is very important and I don’t have the luxury of just letting things play out. I need to pay an active part,” said 20-year-old Morgan, who’d also attended the Inauguration Day protest the day prior and said the environment stood in stark contrast. “Love is in the atmosphere here, we’re all here for a good cause.”
People said they felt happy, hopeful, angry, powerful. “I don’t feel alone in this, I feel so many with me,” said Sally, 21. And through the sentiments was a thread of the most powerful emotion of all: hope. Click through above to see all the moving answers and images Chetrit captured.
Did you march?