Madison, Wisc.- In a crowd estimated to be between 75,000 and 100,000 people Saturday afternoon, what filled the streets were thousands of pink hats and people holding signs emblazoned with vaginas, female gender symbols and phrases like “I am not a pretty girl” and “viva la vulva.” Titled the ‘Women’s March on Madison,’ it was offset by families- not just women, but men and children who accompanied them.
Of the nearly 700 sister marches planned in other states and countries, all meant to mirror the ‘Women’s March on Washington,’ a timely response to Donald Trump’s first day as the 45th president, each one exceeded the number of people expected by tens-of-thousands.
Every marcher who showed up seemed to be motivated by a personal mission of their own, plus a desire to stand in solidarity with others. Yet, adversaries might be wondering “what’s the point?” or “what do they hope to accomplish?”
Scarlett Welander, who attended the march with her husband, parents, kids and friends said her reasoning is simple.
“I have kids and I want to see them grow up in a better world than what Trump is offering,” said Welander.
Kelly Warren, who was joined by her husband, said that speaking up about how she feels is one of the few things she can do.
“His policies that he’s put forth are something that the world is really concerned about,” said Warren. “Madison is one of hundreds of cities around the world, actually today there are supposed to protests in wales, in Australia and in New Zealand in reaction to him taking office. The U.S. is a major player and we can’t pretend we’re not.”
But she and others said the movement cannot stop here with the march. Judd Harris, A Chicago attorney who attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, drove in just for the march.
“This can’t be a one-off where everyone is pissed off for 30 days, because that’s what the administration is counting on,” said Harris. “That they can weather this loud little storm, but then it’s not going to make changes.”
Warren said going forward she plans to be heard by getting involved in politics on a local level.
“That’s something I’ve decided I’m going to work much more on- my local politics, community and getting involved with my local representatives and getting my views to them,” said Warren. “On a local level, that’s when you really start to see a difference. You can see it directly.”
A lineup of political and local speakers took to the stage at the Capitol building. Madison District 10 Alderman Maurice Cheeks sparked waves of cheers when he discussed a meeting held just hours earlier. Along with hundreds of others in Madison, the meeting was held to talk about a 100-day agenda for an initiative he called “Leading Locally” in which he is aiming to “drive the city forward” regardless of Trumps policies.
Masses of people chanted as they tried to march from the University Library to the Capitol Building.
“No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here.” The crowds were dense and people stretched the entire length of State Street making it difficult and sometimes impossible to move. The march became more of a rally. Even so, everyone stayed peaceful and focused on the future as they maneuvered through the people, and the talk was about how to make “meaningful changes.” Recognizing that marches and protests are not the solution, rather a way for them to gain support.
“Hopefully this is a movement that picks up, gets bigger and bigger and does not stop,” said Harris. “That’s what this has to be. [Hopefully] millennials will never let us down at the voting booth again. That they will realize the gravity of this and how much it does matter. And that we’ll have an off year election that is supported by the people who are offended by this and by the rolling back of all the progressive agenda we’ve developed over the last 50 years.”
Some want to make radical moves and hope to get Trump out of office but others just think he needs to change his ways in order to gain the respect of his opponents. The number of people who came out to protest Trump, in Madison and around the world, is a statement of its own.