Little Cuter's acorn didn't fall far from her mama's tree. These are her words and pictures.
I made a promise to my daughter before she was born that I would do everything in my power to keep her safe and make her feel loved.
That is why I marched.
I marched to show solidarity to my fellow Americans that the current political climate is NOT ACCEPTABLE to me and that I will do whatever I can in my power to stand against it and protect the future I promised to my kid.
I also marched for strength. I marched because I didn’t want to feel removed, hopeless, rudderless or unable to turn on the television or open a newspaper. I marched for power - to share it with those who needed it and to siphon it from others who had some to spare.
I marched because I am not entitled to the cushy life that I’ve led so far. I’ve spent 31 years benefiting from the fight that those before me have waged, and I want to show respect, and allow the generations before me to know that they can hand off the baton - we are capable of taking it from here. Thank you for showing us the way.
I woke up this morning and peeked out of my hotel room window to see if I could gauge how the city was bracing for the march. Everything looked relatively peaceful, so I decided to get ready and psych myself up.
I got dressed in plain, unassuming clothes that would be easy to hide or flee in. Not one to discount the danger of attending a political event, I was as prepared as I could possibly be for things to turn south quickly. I had also promised my husband that I would not draw attention to myself unnecessarily (no signs, no themed clothing, please just stay safe).
I also knew I’d need fuel, so I pre-ordered some Starbucks and headed out. I was prepared for a madhouse once I made it to the march, but the house just felt SAFE from the minute I left my hotel. Women in Starbucks stood shoulder to shoulder, giving up seats to those who looked like they could use a rest and giving up spaces in line for the bathroom to the much older (and much younger) crowd.
Finishing my breakfast sandwich on the way to Grant Park, my first view was of the Art Institute:The banners between the columns all depicted women, and the steps were full of fellow marchers. I knew I wanted my daughter to experience a small measure of this herself, so I called my husband and FaceTimed them on the walk to the bandshell where the rally would take place.
“CHECK OUT ALL OF THESE PEOPLE STANDING UP FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE IN, BABY GIRL!” I cried out to her. “Look at all of the support and love Mommy has all around her!”
“Coooooooooooool, Mama” was the most I got out of her but that was more than enough for me.
To give you an idea of the crowd of 175,000 of us in Chicago that day I’d like to share one small tidbit that most likely won’t make it to the news: Those of us who had signed up online for the march had received an email with logistics for the day, one of which mentioned that the crowd should try to stay off the grass at Grant Park, because any damage would be the organizer’s responsibility to repair or replace and we didn’t want our fundraising efforts to go to sod. Not only did NO ONE WALK ON THE GRASS but as I was walking to the bandshell from Michigan Avenue I heard someone yell out “Please don’t walk on the grass - save our money for what matters!” and the person who was about to cross stopped short, waved, and kept marching.
I secured a place in the crowd by the stage at the bandshell- standing in front of a tall, square, iron parking meter. I had promised my husband I would think ahead about safety; securing my back end against a giant block of iron felt like a good start. Directly next to me was a woman fluent in ASL who had a sign saying so, and for the 5 minutes we stood next to each other she helped three different hearing impaired marchers make it to the bathrooms.
By the time the cast of Hamilton had led us in a chorus of “Let It Be” I had met a transgender woman marching with her teenage daughter, a woman who had just returned from her second tour in Iraq, and helped to hold a sign for a breastfeeding mother whose baby was getting distracted by the (unseasonably bright and warm) sun.
THIS IS THE AMERICA I IMAGINED FOR MY DAUGHTER.
An America whose citizens are as passionate as they are diverse. An America that stands for who they are and what they believe in in a RESPECTFUL and decent manner. An America that will stand up in the face of danger and say WE WILL BE HEARD.
I could go on about the massive turnout, the graceful and well-prepared police presence, the weather (seriously - 60 and sunny at the end of January in Chicago - I HEAR YOU, MOTHER EARTH!), the organizers, and my fellow marchers but I don’t want my point to get diluted. The Women’s March on Chicago was life changing for me. It gave me a guidepost by which to live not only the rest of my life but the next four years with hope and purpose. It showed me that there were hundreds of thousands of us who heard President Barack Obama when he told us it was time to get to work. And get to work we did.