And The Power Came
And the power came from the thronging masses, and masses they were. 175,000 at last count. “Marching” is a generous description of what we did, it was more like standing with purpose, shuffling for freedom, not quite the same romantic ring to it as “marching”.
But the power came from all those faces. It came from bodies of all shapes and sizes, from all those minds and their clever signs, with pussy caps that formed a sea of pink, the power came and it said: “Here are my concerns! You need to listen!”
The power came from the chants – such an Indian idea! – “show us what democracy looks like/this is what democracy looks like”.
The power came from the families marching, from the small triad standing in front of us on the common before the event started, set up just on the rise, out of sight of the large screen and reviewing stand set up where dignitaries spoke. One tall man and his partner took turns holding their baby until the speechifying was done, when they bundled their stroller and child and making like Moses, set out to part the human sea and exit.
The power came from the many generations of women marching, the great-grandmother, the grandmother, the mother and daughter, all lined up for pictures to record the continuity of struggle.
It came from the humor of the protestor who held up a picture of Trump in a Yankees uniform, and him saying the worst thing any Bostonian could say of another: “Trump is a Yankess fan! We should have seen this coming.”
The power came from all those children who marched. It came from that little African American girl, with her pale pink pussy hat, whose sign was constructed from a wooden stirring spoon as a handle taped to poster board with the words, “Girrrrrllll Power”. It came from my five-year old niece who managed the whole day without a complaint, holding one of the three signs I made for the event over her head: “Love & Resist”, it said. Her luminous blonde hair catching the sunlight, the soft blue of her eyes resembling love.
The power came from the sea of humanity that stretched from the entrance on Commonwealth, all the way to the gold domed state house. Protestors with signs hung from every tree on the common, making it into a farm of action, waiting to be harvested.
The power came from the compassion that was reflected in the sign of one young man with dreadlocks to his waist, who stripped to a bare top, then climbed a tree. His sign read “I am naked because I feel safe and supported to do so and I want my sisters to feel safe and supported too.” It came from the poetry of Mary Oliver on one sign: “I believe in kindness and mischief/also in singing/especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”
The power came in many languages. In signs that read “Ni putas/Ni santa/Solo mujeres! (Neither whores nor saints, only women). ” It came in the singing of Amazing Grace in the tongue of an indigenous tribe before the march began.
The power came in music. It came from the church we passed playing the National Anthem with chimes, while the crowd sang along, a nearby trumpet player filling in the melody. It came too when the crowd spontaneously began singing America the Beautiful.
The power came after the event as well, in the form of the discussion on social media. CNN insisted this was an anti-Trump march but it wasn’t. It was about women gathering the way a storm gathers: with intention, with steady, relentless purpose. The power came from that.
There are some who still don’t understand. There are some who want to suggest all this effort could have been put to better use, that donating time or money to social causes would be better, that this causes division; as if writing a check alone could alter the structures that create injustice; as if harmony meant the acceptance of injustice; as if making noise and causing a peaceful disturbance is so un-American forgetting that this city, especially this city, was where our American revolution began, where the start was anything by quiet, anything but convenient, anything but non-intrusive. This American belief is where the power came from: that sometimes you have to put a body behind the rhetoric, lend muscle to words.
At the end of the day, the power came as trust spilling onto the winding streets, all over these streets, trust and the knowledge that institutions need faith to work, we need to put in the hours; we need to punch the clock.
I have seen tomorrow, and it’s a mobile and vocal one. It is very much female. And the power came from that as well,