When we exited the metro (near Independence and 7th Street) we had a moment of complete awe. The station was flooded with people. There were so many that the escalators had been turned off and converted into stairs. Everywhere we looked, there were people. People of all different races, genders, sexualities, abilities, and walks of life. There was one thing we all had in common: We were here to march for the equality of all people.
The first half an hour was an insane level of movement and people. It took us at least ten minutes to exit the metro station and after that, we were out on streets that were packed with hundreds of people, many of them wearing the now iconic pink pussy cat hats.
The atmosphere was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I’ve been to several protests and marches and none of them have felt the way this one did. Everyone was in a positive, uplifting mood and the level of respect and politeness that permeated through the crowd was palpable. If someone needed to get out of the massive crowd of people to a quieter, less-populated section, the crowd would part as best they could to let that person through.
We stood in a sector close enough to the screens to be able to see everything and hear most everything, except for the points the sound system cut out. We heard America Ferrera give an impassioned, beautiful speech. The ever iconic Gloria Steinem spoke powerfully to the crowd. All the while, I was snapping shots with my camera.
While the rally was an awesome part of the day and we got to hear speeches by powerful, courageous women, the march was just as spectacular. The organizers had originally planned for anywhere between 150,000-250,000 attendees. By the time the rally had ended, there were estimates of 350,000 people, and when it was time for the march to start, that number had climbed to over 600,000. Because of these numbers, the original march route couldn’t contain the event. So, we took over Downtown Washington D.C. and walked wherever we could.
From my perspective, this was the most intense, emotion-filled, beautiful part of the day. I was marching with my friends, yes, but I was also marching with literally thousands of other people who were just as passionate about equality as I am. I also got to photograph the largest protest in world history. I was photographing people laughing, crying, smiling, angrily shouting. I was photographing the full spectrum of human emotions, sometimes all at the same time. It took me until the next day to realize that my camera strap had been around my neck so long that it had left a raw mark.
Attending the Women’s March on Washington was one of the most profound and powerful experiences of my life. Between the speakers, the people at the march, the privilege of photographing it, and simply having the ability to stand side-by-side with my fellow humans, it is something I am never going to forget.
Visit our blog, which documented our journey to Washington DC: https://studentactionwomensmarch.wordpress.com/