An estimated half-million people showed up for the Women's March on Washington yesterday, coming together to protest what has been a historically frightening election for women. President Donald Trump has bragged about sexual assault, and the number of women who have accused him of assault is now in the double digits; Vice President Mike Pence has waged a career-long war against Planned Parenthood and would like women to hold funerals for their aborted fetuses. There are a lot of reasons to be angry, but instead, the overwhelming mood at the march was of defiant optimism and hope.
ELLE.com spent the day on the National Mall, speaking to women and men who had traveled from all across the nation to make their voices heard in front of The White House. Here are some of their messages for the Trump-Pence administration.
Cynthia, 51 (right)
From: Houston, Texas
"For those of us who live in places where it's not a liberal majority, it's been really nice to see how many Americans feel the same way we feel, and how many people there are of good nature and good heart. As a middle-aged white woman, I was a little afraid that this was going to be the middle-aged white woman march, and it isn't. I'm really happy about the diversity that I'm seeing."
Her message for POTUS: "Stop focusing on yourself, and start focusing on the needs of the country. Put that in front of your TV ratings. Have a moment of humility and think about what's best for others."
Eboné Bell, 35
"As a queer black woman, I wanted to show representation. Sometimes the feminist movement tends to be very white, and I think it's important for us to show up. I know some people [of color] did not want to show up today because they felt that the march wasn't representative of them, but I believe that if we want to be at the table, we have to show up to the table. I just want to be visible, I think one of the biggest things when you're fighting a cause, trying to get equal rights, is to be visible, I think that's the best form of protest.
Her message for POTUS: "We're not going anywhere. You cannot erase us. We are going to resist your bigotry, your hatred, your misogyny, your xenophobia; we are going to resist it every single day, because America does not stand for that. America is better than that."
From: Houston, Texas
"I appreciate that today, we are able to come outside of our bubbles–both technologically and geographically–and meet other like-minded people. We may feel sequestered in our bubbles, but when we come here, we're together. The way that the algorithms work on Facebook and other feeds, they bring like-minded people together, so you stop seeing dissent, and it creates the polarization that we're seeing now. It can be difficult to push up against boundaries and hear each other."
Her message for POTUS: "Please take care of the smallest person. If the smallest person is taken care of, we will all be taken care of."
Shannon Kintner, 26 & Sander Randell, 28
From: Brooklyn, New York
"We drove all night from Charleston, South Carolina. We were in a comedy festival there last night, and after the show, we got in the car and drove here. Driving from the south, we just kept seeing buses and buses full of women. We stopped at a rest stop in North Carolina at 4am, and the entire parking lot was just three buses of women coming here. We were all in the parking lot, jumping around, trying to get the blood flowing and keep the energy up… It was really foggy, and eerie, and inspiring."
Their message for POTUS: "Listen to the disenfranchised. Respect all Americans, as he expects us to respect him."
Barbara Zucker, 74
From: Manhattan, New York
"We're here because we want to fight for an inclusive America. Donald Trump did not win the popular vote, and he doesn't represent our country. I'm excited that people are going to fight back. I don't think we can get through to him – I think he's mentally ill – but there are some slightly saner people in Congress and the Senate. We have six grandchildren, and we want them to have a better world."
Her message for POTUS: "Money won't save you. You're going to self-destruct, and in the end money will not protect you from what is real and important in the world. Pay attention to the diversity inside of America, or we will fight back."
Benjamin Zucker, 76
From: Manhattan, New York
"I'm thinking about my next 45 years, hopefully, and I'm worried about planet Earth. It's an extraordinary thing that Trump is so against the environment, and the understanding that there is global warming. I can only hope that he'll be worn down by people who go on marches like this, by people who write him letters, by the academic world."
His message for POTUS: "Take a trip to China, look up at the sky, and you'll see a huge amount of pollution. Walk around America, look at the North Pole, look at the South Pole. Open up your eyes, change your tactic, and support measures against global warming."
Tanya Vernon, 33
St Louis, Missouri
"It's very inspiring and energizing to be here. It's making me optimistic to see so many people who are on the same level, who have these common beliefs and things that we're fighting for. There are people from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, and what's bringing us together is that we all want equality."
Her message for POTUS: "Just listen. You need to be open to alternative perspectives, and be receptive to facts. Look at factual data to make your decisions."
Chloi Craig, 27
From: Knoxville, Tennessee
Her message for POTUS: "My first-grade students set better examples, and have better ideas for this country's future, than the people you are appointing to your cabinet. You should come and talk to them for ideas."
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