On Saturday, over 500,000 people gathered near the United States Capitol “to show [their] presence in numbers.” The Women’s March describes itself as a “grassroots’ movement” across the U.S. meant to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office.” The march in D.C. was by far the largest in the U.S. and included numerous speeches made by celebrities, activists and other leaders.
One of the first speakers, actress America Ferrara, addressed why women should march against the president.
“We march today for the moral core of this nation, against which our new president is waging a war,” Ferrara explained to the crowd gathered outside of the Capitol. “Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday.”
Ms. Ferrara echoed many speakers who argued that the Trump administration threatens women and other marginalized groups. Each speaker echoed a central message that “women’s rights are human rights.”
Ashley Judd received praise for her performance, as she noted how her feminism is not as nasty as “the combo of Trump and Pence being served up to me in my voting booth.” In fact, she went so far as to compare Trump and his cabinet to Hitler and the Nazis saying that she “[felt] Hitler in these streets.”
Yet, among the many fiery speeches, film maker Michael Moore’s was perhaps the most pointed.
“Trump takes power. I don’t think so,” Michael Moore shouted as he waved to the crowd.
Moore encouraged the crowd to protest members of the Trump cabinet and provided a specific number for them to call their senators.
“Tell your senators,” Moore called to the crowd, “we do not accept Betsy DeVos as our Secretary of Education.”
One of the most famous speakers, Madonna, described the march as the beginning of a “revolution of love.” She argued that it is time for “much needed change” because “good did not win this election.”
Controversially, she shouted to the crowd that she had “thought an awful lot of blowing up the White House.” The comment came as a surprise to some, who saw the event as spreading a nonviolent message.
The Women’s March has been recognized for its wide support in D.C. and throughout the United States. Yet, organizers now reckon with translating this support into sustained action. On its website, the march encourages supporters to engage in 10 Actions for the first 100 Days. The first action calls on women to write to their senators about “what matters most to you.”
These actions will test the strength of the movement’s coalition. Already, there have been questions about who exactly belongs at an event like the Women’s March.
Last week, march organizers removed a pro-life group as an official sponsor of the event after receiving backlash from participants. Several pro-life groups planned to protest the event due to this lack of inclusivity.
Following the election of Barack Obama, Republican activists produced a wave of electoral victories through the Tea Party movement. Conservatives were able to effectively translate political fervor into results at the ballot box. For those at the Women’s March, it’s unclear what lies ahead. The next steps will be most telling about what the movement really stands for.