|Words and photos by F LoBuono|
GIRL POWER! GIRL POWER! GIRL POWER!
As a journalist I have worked the Washington beat, on and off, for nearly 15 years. I have been involved with stories at Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court and the White House. In other words, I have witnessed many of our Country's largest pageants and spectacles, including the Inauguration of two Presidents. All can be awe inspiring. But, I may have observed the greatest of them all this past Saturday (1/21/2017).
I was in D.C. to work with a news broadcast team to cover the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump and the Women's March in opposition of his policies that was to follow it. In an effort for total clarity, it should be noted that I do not support Mr. Trump's policies as they are currently proposed. I do not appreciate his approach to governing or to people themselves. And, my thoughts as presented here, are based on my empirical observations. The opinions expressed are just that - opinions. Others may have an "alternative" impression.
But, it may also be safe to say that I may be crazy, but I am neither stupid nor blind.
President Trump's Inauguration was, in a relative sense, well attended. There were hundreds of thousands of people in the city to take part in the ceremony. However, from my recollection and observation, it was far less in scope and enthusiasm than President Obama's was four years ago. And, I can say without hesitation that it PALED in comparison to the Women's March that followed it.
Because of logistics, I had to walk from my hotel through the heart of the city to my assignment near Capitol Hill, a distance of about a mile . I walked directly past the National Mall, the parade route, and the area at the Capitol where the Inauguration ceremony and, a day later, the Women's March, would take place. It afforded me a rather unique perspective.
On Friday, the day of the Inauguration, I walked through a crowd of mostly white, older people, many wearing red hats emblazoned with Trump's campaign slogan: "Make America Great Again". I did observe a fair amount of young people mixed in the crowd. There were even children, some wearing Trump themed clothing. I saw a group of Orthodox men wearing Trump embroidered yarmulkes. However, I can also say that the crowd was seriously lacking in diversity. There seemed to be a limited amount of Latinos and virtually no African-Americans. Now, this is not to say there were NONE. But, to my observation, they were so lacking in numbers as to be virtually non existent. The crowd was largely orderly and surprisingly quiet. About the only loud noise came from the hustlers selling Trump memorabilia. At a certain point, due to security, I could walk no further and decided to take the Metro train to Union Station. From there, I had no trouble in reaching my position near the Capitol.
The next day (Saturday), I woke to the sound of drumming outside my hotel window. When I looked out on the street, I saw hundreds of people already milling about. They appeared to be mostly women, but not exclusively. And, they were in all shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities. When I came down for some breakfast before work, the hotel lobby was packed with women wearing the symbol of their cause; a hand-woven, pink "Pussy Hat". Many of them had hand-made signs bearing feminist slogans like "my body - my choice". Perhaps, my most noticeable observation may have been the mood in the room. It was one of togetherness, strength, commitment, and defiance. It was a powerful, palpable, feminine energy.
And, when I got on the street, that feeling was reinforced tenfold!
There were throngs of marching people in almost every direction. Some of the streets were so clogged with marchers that it forced me to backtrack and find another way through - only to discover those streets just as packed. The crowd was overwhelmingly female, but not exclusively.
Many men, also holding signs in support of the cause, joined in. The ethnic mix was also notable. It was CERTAINLY more diverse than the crowd in support of President Trump the day before. And, they were LOUD. Drumming, singing, chanting, and speeches filled the air. Yet, despite the enormous size of the crowd, I noticed NO violence and virtually no acrimony. If anything was negative, they could have been more organized. Many seemed confused as to where to march and where to stop and rally. But, I was astounded at the POSITIVE ENERGY that just exuded from the people there. It was inspirational - and, I am not easily inspired!
I eventually realized that the only way to get to my assignment was to walk around the perimeter of the crowd. It took a while, but I made it. From my position, high on a rooftop above Capitol Hill, I could see the huge throng assembling on the National Mall and over-flowing into the surrounding area. And, I could hear them - singing, chanting, speaking, cheering. This was simply not the case the day before. For the Inauguration, I could not see the crowd. Perhaps, it was not large enough to fill the whole area as the Women's March did. And, the only sound I heard then was of sirens. I heard no singing or cheering.
By my observation and estimation, the number of participants in the Women's March easily doubled those at the Inauguration.
Now, the significance of this is debatable. Do the numbers REALLY matter?
Well, they certainly seem to the current administration. The new President wasted no time in bloviating about the numbers and their significance.
Be that as it may, what IS important is for women to understand is that THEY HAVE THE POWER. It was so obvious to me that, if they can stick together, they will be the ones to change the world! Their energy, executed without violence, was as powerful as it was unmistakable. As macho as I can be, I was awed by their resolve, their gentle strength, and the force of their message. If women refuse to be moved, then they will not be. If you lead with that type of commitment, men will follow - we will have not a choice. The White House MUST listen.
Epilogue: I want to congratulate my many women friends and all the women from all over the world who exercised their right to to be heard. For what it's worth, I'm damned proud of you.