Scarlett Johansson, Madonna, America Ferrera, and Ashley Judd Kick Off Women’s March on Washington

·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle
Scarlett Johansson smiles at the Women’s March on Washington on Jan 21. (Photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
Scarlett Johansson smiles at the Women’s March on Washington on Jan 21. (Photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

In stark contrast to yesterday’s inauguration of President Donald Trump, the streets of Washington, D.C., were flooded with hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children on Saturday in support of the Women’s March on Washington. The event started as a Facebook initiative posted by a Hawaiian woman sharing her despair over the election results with a small group of women, and it quickly blossomed into a national rallying cry for everyone to unite in support of immigrants, women and their reproductive rights, the LGBTQ community, and others whose freedoms are threatened under the current political climate. The movement went global, with sister marches across Europe, in Canada, and more.

Related: Photos of Celebrities at Women’s Marches Around the World

The event attracted some major star wattage as well. Scarlett Johansson, America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, and surprise guest Madonna were a few of the power speakers. Everyone from Katy Perry and Amy Schumer to Julianne Moore and Ariana Grande promised their presence, alongside a host of celebs, including Uzo Aduba, Patricia Arquette, Debra Messing, Frances McDormand, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Olivia Wilde, Chrissy Teigen, and Constance Wu. Even Beyoncé has pledged her support.

Ferrera, the chair for the Artists’ Table of the Women’s March on Washington, introduced herself to the crowd and admitted that as a woman and an immigrant, she’s been feeling disheartened by the election results.

“But the president is not America,” the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants star insisted. “His cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America. And we are here to stay. We march today for our families and our neighbors, for our future, for the causes we claim, and for the causes that claim us.”

Amid raucous cheers, Ferrera continued to address the president’s messages of hate, fear, and suspicion, counteracting it with her own message of hope, inclusion, and strength, imploring the assembled to work hard to oppose anything that threatens human rights on every level.

“Marchers, make no mistake, we are, every single one of us, under attack. Our safety and freedom are under attack,” she instructed the crowd. “If we do not stand together, fight together, and march together, then we will lose. … If we commit to what aligns us, if we stand together, we stand the chance of saving the soul of our country.”

And that was just the beginning. Ferrara’s inspiring call to action was followed by a cadre of powerful speakers, including feminist icon Gloria Steinem, who spoke eloquently about what it was like to take a stand during an era when civil rights leaders were being assassinated, and how that era has transitioned into one where there’s still fear of losing our leaders, but that many of them — Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, to name a few — continue to stand today.

“Trump and his handlers have found a fox for every chicken coop in Washington,” Steinem said of the current cabinet. “And a Twitter finger shouldn’t become a trigger finger.”

After addressing the claims made by psychologists saying that Trump is mentally unfit to hold office, she said, “[Trump] also said he was with the people — that indeed he was the people. To paraphrase a famous quote, I have to say … I have met the people, and you are not them. We are the people. Just this march in Washington today required 1,000 more buses than the entire inauguration!”

Filmmaker Michael Moore also took to the stage, noting his reaction to reading the headlines of the day. “I woke up this morning and picked up the Washington Post, and the headline said, ‘Trump Takes Power,’” he said, and was met with boos from the crowd. “I don’t think so. Here’s the power. Here’s the majority of America right here. We are the majority.”

“‘New president vows to end American carnage’?” he continued, referring to another headline. “Mr. Trump, we are here to vow to end the Trump carnage!”

Moore went on to offer tips to the crowd on how to continue to make their voices heard after the march, encouraging everyone to call their congressional representatives every day to help block decisions that could threaten basic human rights.

Moore’s comments were followed by Ashley Judd, who passionately read a poem by 19-year-old Tennesseean named Nina Donovan.

“I am a nasty woman,” she recited, and was met with a roar of approval. “Not as nasty as a man who looks like he bathes in Cheeto dust, a man whose words are a diss to America, Electoral College-sanctioned hate speech.”

Judd’s impassioned delivery was nearly drowned out by cheers as the poem went on to call out racist leanings (“I feel Hitler – a moustache traded for a toupee”), homophobic and transphobic behaviors, white privilege and misogyny, and even went so far as to address the allegations that Trump sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl and his seeming predilection for his daughter Ivanka.

“I am not as nasty as your daughter being your favorite sex symbol,” Judd said. “But, yeah, I’m a nasty woman. A loud, proud, vulgar woman.”

Continuing with a recitation about gender and financial inequalities, such as how pads and tampons are taxed but Rogaine and Viagra are not, and how women have to avert their eyes so contact or kindness aren’t misconstrued as sexual advances, Judd closed the poem powerfully by calling out, “If you are a nasty woman, or you love one, let me hear you say, ‘Hell, yeah!’” The crowd chanted back with gusto.

Political commentator Van Jones followed, sharing a message of peace and hope based on the movements that were taking place. He added, “We love the conservatives enough to tell them, ‘You can be better than this. Real conservatives love the constitution. Conservatives, you’ve gotta be better than this. Stand up to Trump.’ He was followed by activist and author Janet Mock, who exhorted the crowd, saying: “A movement is more than a march. Act, organize, resist.”

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, made a powerful declaration to the crowd, insisting that no matter what, the organization’s doors would remain open. “We will not go back,” she insisted. “For the majority of people in America, Planned Parenthood is not the problem, we’re the solution.” And, as she reminded the crowd, “One of us can be dismissed, two of us can be ignored, but together, we are a movement, and we are unstoppable.”

After Senator Tammy Duckworth took the stage to share her passion for creating change, Scarlett Johansson stood up for Planned Parenthood, sharing her own experience as a 15-year-old girl visiting the gynecologist for the first time at the behest of her primary care doctor, whom she had also found though Planned Parenthood.

“I’m not the type to divulge facts about my personal life,” she admitted. “I’m protective of my family, I have no social media presence … but we all need to make it our mission to get really personal.”

With that, Johansson spoke candidly about her Planned Parenthood experiences, discussing how the organization was the perfect place for checkups and STD and cancer screenings in an environment that was safe and judgment-free. She shared the stories of friends who were given exceptional support and care through a cancer diagnosis, and of her sister who moved from New York to California without a network for health care and turned to Planned Parenthood for support.

“These are uncertain and anxious times,” Johansson said, echoing the other speakers’ sentiments and sharing how Congress has tried repeatedly to block health care and reproductive rights. “There are very real and devastating consequences to blocking basic health care. For millions of Americans, Planned Parenthood is the only trustworthy clinic.”

She then addressed Trump directly, saying, “President Trump, I did not vote for you. That said, I respect that you’re our president. And I want to be able to support you, but first I ask you support me. Support my sister, my mother, my friend, my best girlfriend. … I ask you to support all women and our fight for equality for all things.”

After sharing her feelings of dismay after the election, Johansson encouraged the crowd, saying, “Let this weight not drag you down but help to get your heels stuck in … don’t let feelings of helplessness make you complacent.” After she pledged her support to women’s health care initiatives, the crowd began to chant her name. Though she left the speech with a bit of a whimper when the sound cut out.

More speakers continued to rally the crowd, including singer Alicia Keys, who recited Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise,” and singer Janelle Monáe, who shared a fiery performance.

But before they took off to march, they got some final thoughts from Madonna. The queen of pop made a surprise appearance at the end of the speeches, which had already run over the allotted time, to get people fired up. After describing herself as “angry” and “outraged,” and saying she considered “blowing up the White House,” she urged the protesters not to back down, saying, “There is power in our unity” and “no opposing force stands a chance in the face of true solidarity.”

The part that got the most cheers, however, was what she said to critics of the march.

“To our detractors who insist that this march will never add up to anything, f*** you. F*** you.”

And with that, everyone was ready for the next steps — literally. “Let’s march!” protesters cried — and so they did.