I’ve been a little depressed since November 9, like drink-gin-straight-out-of-the-cat-dish depressed, and also a little angry. More than a little angry, actually. I had a fantasy in which modern-day Edward R. Murrows and Joseph N. Welchs arose and put a stop to what I have been calling The Thing That Happened on Friday. I had darker fantasies that are better left unrevealed.
My friends, both online and real life, felt the same way too. After the grief began to subside, people began to talk about how to take action. Many planned to march, either in Washington DC or in their hometowns. Realizing that The Thing That Happened was now An Actual Thing, and spending the next four years in a coma not a practical option, I started looking – not with any real hope – for a march in Redding.
It was only after Googling “women’s march near me” that I found womensmarch.com and was able to sign up for the Redding march. My confirmation email said there were over 100 RSVPs, which amazed me. I was further amazed when I looked at the list of marches worldwide – Botswana! Latvia! Cayman Islands! Two in Antarctica! If they can march in Antarctica, I can march in the Northern California rain!
My husband and I had to park around on the right side of City Hall. It looked like more than 100 people under the portico with more streaming in. We met friends and relatives; we talked to strangers who all seemed to be happy just to be among others who felt like they did: afraid but resisting, strength through mutual support. There were a lot of pussyhats. People carried homemade signs reading, “Protect what you love” (with a drawing of the Earth), “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun-damentals,” “I believe in equal, civil, human rights for all,” “Stronger together.”
I started feeling like maybe the world wasn’t going to end. Not right away, anyway. Not as long as these people were on duty.
We marched from City Hall up to Bechelli and back again. I thought we might get a lot of jeers and debris thrown from passing cars, but 99% of the response was positive, waving, smiles, and celebratory horn beeps. Erin Rice Berenger wrote on Facebook, “2.4 miles with 300 people in the cold rain, and believe me, old white dude that flipped me off, you only made me laugh and smile bigger.”
I realized I had been smiling for one and a half miles. It was revitalizing to be surrounded by people who didn’t dismiss my anguish as being a “crybaby loser,” but who understood how very afraid I have been feeling.
It’s helped. I know a march by itself won’t change anything, but hundreds of marches with millions of participants, with thousands of letters and phone calls, cannot be ignored. There are those who would say, “You’re wasting your time and not accomplishing anything. What a bunch of hypocrites” – I would say, “People are re-energized and connected, and are beginning to unite in support of the causes we believe in, while cynicism doesn’t accomplish anything at all.”
Ruth Hendrickson turns 86 in March; she marched with her daughter and granddaughter. “I went because it was not a protest march, it was a coming together march. I don’t agree with everything, but I think we have to stand together. We have to be united. I’m not for Trump and I didn’t vote for Hillary either, but we have to support each other.”
Photos and video by Barbara Rice.