Special Feature: Voices from the Women’s March on Washington

Early on, it was clear this would be a day like no other. Long before the first speaker took the microphone, the streets of Washington D.C. were awash in pink. By the time the day was through, an estimated 500,000 people had poured onto the National Mall for the Women’s March on Washington. Here are their stories.  Photos by Lisa Usher.

The Patriot

Carty Castaldi came from Boston—a city that knows a thing or two about protesting. The software engineer says he was very upset about the election. “I thought this would be a way I could do something to express myself in a healthy way. I hope people understand that there is very broad support for women and women’s issues regardless of what just happened.” he said.

The Early Bird

newmexsmallerstillJean Hibino made her plane reservations “a long time ago”.  She thought she would make the trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Washington D.C. to see the inauguration of the first woman president. Still, she was happy to join the crowd on the National Mall to protest. “Look at all these people; it so awesome,” Hibino said. “I hope the outcome of today is that we stay vigilant…and…that we are not going to go quietly. If he is going to try to get rid of health care, women’s rights, Planned Parenthood or whatever…we are going to keep protesting.”

Hibino is particularly concerned about health care. “I am sorry to say that I still have to keep protesting after all of these decades. We have been hit hard in New Mexico on many different levels but healthcare in particular…we are going to have to fight to change,” she said.

The Banner Holders

Rosalind Jackson (left) and Erin Rogers (right) came from San Francisco. Their brand new banner represents their friends—each of who contributed the squares that decorate the edges of the cloth. Rogers says their friends back home in California are worried about the times we are living in and wanted to stand up. “That’s why we came up with the slogan ‘this is our time’. It is our time to demand respect and empowerment, not just for women, but for all people,” she says.

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Ray Bridge (below on the left), from Maryland, says he came for his wife. “She has been fighting for women’s justice all her life and she could not be here today so I am here in her stead,” he said. Bridge said the banner has been used for many protests, including in front of the White House in the early 1980s by women fighting for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

“My wife’s name is Mary Ann Beall,” Bridge says. “I don’t take any credit, she’s the one who did the hard work.”

Read more about Beall and one of her fights for justice here.

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The Creators
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New York-based artist Paula Stamatis says coming to Washington was personal. “Sexual violence is in my history and…it is personal healing for me. I came for my nieces and my sister-in-law and my mother,” she said. “My family are all Republicans and in Texas; I want to talk to them about the personal aspects of politics and turn it into something more personal than ideological and bridge all the sides.”

Jazz Graves came from Philadelphia wearing the pink jacket she made—finished at 2 a.m. the night before—because she was “not okay with what is happening.” Graves said “I feel like we have a voice and we need to use it and just by being here and being present one person can speak without speaking.”

The Future

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Cameron and his stepmother, Meg Usher, who he says has shown him how to be a good person.

Cameron Sweigart is a 15-year-old ninth grader who lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. “I care about women’s rights and there are lot of women in my life that have had a big impact and I wouldn’t want any of the bad stuff that is happening to happen to them. It is cool to see all of these people together because right now everyone seems really divided; it is cool to see everyone come together and be one.”

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The sign is a quote from poet and activist Audre Lorde.

Nana Akom is a graduate student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “I came because I wanted to see all of the faces of the people who want to make it a more perfect union. The past three months have been a traumatic period but I’m always hopeful that there are good people out there. I came just to see those faces,” Akom says. “Today was a day when Americans came out and showed…our president, that we will indeed make America great us for all.”