21 January 2017

Marching With Women In Glens Falls, N.Y., Today

Standing With Women

I had one of the most powerful and meaningful experiences of my adult life today when Maria and I went to Glens Falls, N.Y., a gateway Adirondack industrial city about an hour North of where we lived. The women's march was sponsored by Planned Parenthood, the organizers said they expected about 50 people to show up, they had reserved a room in the basement of the town's public library, where hot chocolate was awaiting the marchers.

We were all stunned when somewhere between 800 and 1,000 people showed up, the police said it was the largest demonstration in recorded Glens Falls history. There was a beautiful feeling in the March, a sense of community and common ground. People marched for all sorts of reasons.

It did not, to me, have the feel of being only an anti-Trump protest, although there was surely unease and anger towards the new President. For a small upstate New York town, the march was remarkable, even unprecedented.

I felt the future was right in front of me, the people who are tolerant, empathetic, cheerful, positive, I was full of hope. It was so good for me to be there with Maria, who was nearly overwhelmed by the power of it.

People said they marched for all kinds of reasons, most to simply speak up for women their rights and equality. Unquestionably, the marchers felt the new administration was pursuing an agenda hostile to women, and there was a powerful sense of commitment, even of revolution,  if the rights of women are violated or trampled.

The crowd was genial, but intensely committed and quite angry about efforts to withdraw federal funding from Planned Parenthood and put aside the drive for equal pay and reproductive rights. Just as many journalists and politicians greatly underestimated the appeal of Donald Trump, so have they underestimated this movement. It is not going away.

I would not want to mess with this crowd, or deny them their rights. I was part of something so much bigger than me, I was so happy to be there.

It was young and old, and for upstate New York, diverse, determined and very aroused. The march had a festival quality to it, people were joking and laughing. But there was also a sense of purpose.

Women and men driving by honked their horns in support, I especially loved the number of men, most of them young, holding up signs in support of women. I was asked why I was there, and I said it was to support women by showing up, it is for them to set their agenda, and me to support it.

We were so glad we didn't go to Washington, Boston or New York City, this rally was enormous by Glens Falls standards but intimate in comparison.It was the right place for us to go, there is something about local demonstrations that is stirring and uplifting.

A Glens Falls City Council member said in an interview that local politicians were much shaken by the size and intensity of the march. "This is something we have to pay attention to, and we will. It will send shivers down the spines of some politicians, this was something big and I don't think it is going away."

The police were cheerful, efficient, the march was peaceful, the passersby friendly and patient. We parked right across from Planned Parenthood and then stopped downtown afterwards for some Tacos at a Spanish-American restaurant. We were so grateful we didn't head for New York, Washington or Boston.

This was upstate democracy in so many ways.

I had the best time,and so did Maria. We were joined by two friends, Cathy Stewart and Jackie Thorne, I was so happy to be there, and so proud. I felt I was present for something very powerful and historic. Women are different from men, the sense of community and connection was palpable. So many people thanked me for being there, and I thanked them.

Three generations of my family – me, Emma and Robin – were walking for women today. Emma and Robin were walking in New York City, where the march was so large the crowds had to be re-routed on different avenues. I felt good about my country today, this is, in fact, what democracy looks like and how it works. The women had a sense of being dismissed and ignored and I believe only the most foolish of politicians would ignore their message: there is no going back.

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