Last Saturday will forever remain one of the most powerful, uplifting and hopeful experiences in my life, as I’m sure it will for an abundance of people globally. For two weeks I’ve been trying to find the right words and to form adequate sentences, to try and piece together every positive occurrence, pertaining to the largest collective, international protest the world has ever seen. Disturbed by Donald Trump and his administration's looming agenda, on Saturday January 21st, 2017, women across the world marched, however long, however far, in however many numbers, for equality, for women’s rights, for their children’s future and for our nation’s future.
Sister marches in large international cities such as Madrid, London, Montreal, Sydney, Dublin, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam all showed their support in large numbers. Even more awe-inspiring were the small, but still significant, protests that expanded over all seven continents. 15 women in Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia, marched down a local highway and with them Kenyan citizens in the capital of Nairobi, a small fishing village in Esterillos Oeste, Costa Rica, 30 people on a small expedition ship in Antarctica and my little home town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. They were all among hundreds, if not thousands of Women’s Marches around the world. They stood tall with their signs and chants, holding the hands of their children, partners and friends to send a message to the world: Our voices are strong but stronger united.
Here in Denver, I had been watching the Facebook event’s numbers grow with anticipation for weeks. I had no idea the size and attention of the protest as initially I clicked “interested” on my invite back in November. Denver’s numbers grew from 2,000 to 10,000 to Facebook’s final event numbers at almost 50,000. As we know, those numbers still don’t properly reflect the size of the attendance that day. The Denver Post is now estimating more than 100,000 women, men and children marched on our city. No wonder I couldn’t find any of my other friends!
Rebecca Shook, 60-year-old Hawaiian resident, is the powerful initiator behind this historic movement. She was, like a many other women November 8th, 2016, devastated with the election results. She called into question if women could march on Washington on Inauguration Day as she expressed her anger and frustration on a Facebook post. With the help of her friends, she created a Facebook event. Shook was unaware of how receptive people would be to her idea. Shook’s event was shared on popular intersectional feminism, LGBT, racially and religiously inclusive secret Facebook group “Pantsuit Nation.” That got the event the media attention it needed to spark the fire. 10,000 people confirmed their attendance in less than 24 hours. Over the last couple of months, the fire traveled: Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Denver and Seattle were among the largest other U.S. cities in attendance.
Denver’s crowd was lively and emphatic from Civic Center Park up 15th Street, Glenarm to 17th, 17th to Champa, Champa to 14th and back to Civic Center Park creating our 1.5 mile loop. All the while, our voices filled the streets and bellowed through the crowds, “Love not hate, makes America great!” “All four years, we’ll be here!” “This is what Democracy looks like!” “Her body, her choice! My body, my choice!” Police lining the streets appeared almost bored as the march was 100 percent non-violent. From local office windows and restaurants, messages and posters displaying love, equality and resistance were seen throughout the march route. One construction worker held a sign of “Peace” 10 stories high in an unfinished apartment complex as we all waved our appreciation in return. The amount of love and unity was astounding to say the least. Strangers complimented each other’s messages and art, friends and lovers shared hugs and kisses, and generations stood together, fighting for their family’s future.
Denver, I know a lot of us are hurting. A lot of us feel scared and deceived, powerless to the fate of ourselves and our nation. There’s still a lot we can do to increase and expand awareness, and to remain positive and proactive. Call and email your senators and representatives. Senator Cory Gardner, Senator Michael Bennett, House of Representatives members Ken Buck, Jared Polis, Ed Perlmutter, Scott Tipton, Mike Coffman, Mike Lamborn and Diana DeGette, have all of their contact info listed in the link below.
Contact our state legislation and let them know what issues are important to you.
Create, and/or sign petitions to express and voice your opinion on what you believe in. There are many petition websites currently: Change.org, Petitions.whitehouse.gov, iPetitions.com, act.credoaction.com, etc.
Join one of the many peaceful protests and events happening in our great city. Check Facebook for the latest organized petitions and gatherings. Upcoming events this week include: “STOP Colorado’s 3 Anti-Choice Bills” this Thursday February 9th. Protesters will meet to voice their disapproval of the three new anti-choice bills in the Colorado General Assembly. This Saturday protesters will join at Skyline Park to show their support for Planned Parenthood outside Senator Gardner’s office in the “Colorado Stand With Planned Parenthood” event. Saturday, February 18th is the “Defend Our Constitution March” at Civic Center Park where protesters will stand united for our rights and against hatred. Also February 18th is the “One Billion Rising Denver: 2017 March & Rally” at the Denver Pavilions. One Billion Rising is a global movement to end violence against women. Monday, February 20th is the “Rally for Justice,” where you can speak up in the fight for integrity in education.
Next month on the 25th is the “Women’s Day of Service Denver.” Volunteers can choose a daily task that contributes to the community including refugee assistance, feeding the hungry, community gardening, and helping low income women, families and youths.
The link to register is listed below.
This Earth Day, April 22nd the “March for Science - Denver,” will march for evidence-based policies for the common good of the public and to include all individuals in the education and career paths of science.
These are just a few of the organized upcoming gatherings to get involved in. Be sure to keep up with happenings in our city on your Facebook events page.
You can also donate to organizations you care about and need your support.
Planned Parenthood: https://secure.ppaction.org/site/Donation2;jsessionid=00000000.app20109b?df_id=12913&12913.donation=form1&s_src=Evergreen_c3_PPNonDirected_shorturl&NONCE_TOKEN=1A40821157A3B351A95453895C10B536
The Human Rights Campaign: https://give.hrc.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1954&ea.campaign.id=51848
National Immigration Law Center:
The many speakers at Denver’s rally urged us to run for office and control from within. If you or others deem your voice powerful and have good intentions, run for your local office, be a leader in your community, start an awareness group on topics you feel strongly need to be discussed and given attention to, join or create a student organization group on campus, or just spread goodness in your community. Hold open the door for the person behind you, compliment a stranger in line at the grocery store, express your appreciation to your barista when you get your morning coffee. Help others, appreciate others, empower others, praise others. Of course a lot of us already to these things in our daily lives. As Coloradans, we’re some of the kindest, compassionate and tolerant people in the nation. Keep doing good. Goodness changes attitudes. Good attitudes generate hopefulness. Spreading love and kindness with small, daily actions is the easiest way to create empathy and to spread ripples of change in your local community. Where there is empathy and compassion, things like racism, sexism and intolerance are diminished.
Whether you were a supporter of the marches or not, you can’t deny their numbers. Women of the world have come together to not only support their sisters, but also people of different races, religions and sexualities from themselves. This unity is a powerful force and one that can awaken the world to change the course of history. We’ve shown those in power that our voices will not be silenced, we are not afraid and we will not disappear. If you were as stirred by the Women’s Marches of the world as I was, hold onto that feeling–now is the time to act. If you’ve experienced fear that your rights are in danger, or sadness or outrage at the world around you, hold onto the strength you felt at the march and do not sink back into complacency. Fellow marchers, I still stride forward with you. Saturday, January 21st I was so overjoyed with unity and hope in this community. I love you, Denver. Stay awake.