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72 Hours. 44 women. 1 bus. One Woman’s Tale

72 Hours. 44 women. 1 bus.   One Woman’s Tale

Women’s March on Washington D.C. 2017

By Greta Weiner

Greta Weiner on the bus to Women's March on WashingtonCommitment. That’s the word that keeps coming to mind when I think of the other 43 women who rode a bus to Washington, D.C., from Albuquerque.  Many came from three hours away to get to the bus for this historical event.  They weren’t spring chickens, ranging in age from 35 to 75. They came with a cane, diabetes, circulation problems, and just the creakiness of old age. They tolerated their aches and pains for all of those hours to have their voices heard in Washington against a president that threatened their way of life.

Some women were on Medicare, some on Medicaid, others had their lives saved by Planned Parenthood. They came to march for their immigrant parents, their freedom of religion, and freedom from discrimination by color  and gender bias, and to retain their LGBTQIA rights. They were Democrats and Progressives and women who held positions in the Democratic party.

Early in the morning on Saturday the 21st, this bus had their pink hats on, their protest signs on their laps, and one by one they got on the mic at the front of the bus and shared “Why I’m Marching.”

An older patriot stated she was marching because she protested in D.C. against the Vietnam War, and felt our country has moved so far forward, it cannot slip back. She was marching because it was time for a woman to be president, for immigrants to be citizens, and for our daughters to be equal partners in work, politics and life.

Another woman stood up and proudly admitted that her one-time husband had always wanted a sex change, and so they worked together to make that happen. Her husband is now her wife. She talked about traveling around the world with her husband, and how she was able to fill out customs forms together as a family. Yet while traveling, she was informed by a customs agent that they weren’t family and needed to fill out forms separately. She described the pain she felt that this very same person who had always been her family was now discriminated against, and so was she. She was marching to preserve her family’s status with our government.

A woman who had been quietly knitting hats on the bus got up to talk about freedom of religion. How people who practice her religion have been literally burned at the stake. How her faith was not even recognized by many as a religion at all. She’s Wiccan and was marching to save her rights. Her husband also was marched proudly with us.

Another was marching for her elderly relatives who have survived the Holocaust and were leery of the changes happening today, likening them to Germany in the 1930s. She also was marching against discrimination against people of color, for her black husband who has seen more than his fair share of hatred.

An Asian was marching for tolerance of her culture and religious beliefs.  Coming from Thailand she felt that not only was she discriminated against, but in this political climate people don’t take the time to learn about anything outside their bubble.

And there were men. Men who are feminists and men who love the women who came to speak out.

They came to dispel their despair at the turn of events in government, to resist a regression of their rights, to push us forward and demand that we not move backward. Many were teachers who wanted their pupils to have a better government than the one threatening our ideals.

Not to deter from the magnitude of adding our bodies to the 1.2 million people who marched that day, the true story of the march was told on that bus.

Me? I marched for tolerance, against discrimination. Because in the ‘60s JFK and MLK sparked something in me to want to help raise all Americans to equality.I marched for equal pay and religious freedom. For immigrants who are denied entry into this country, just like so many who were denied entry after the Holocaust or after treacherous boat rides to Miami. I marched against detainment camps and for healthcare rights, against hate and for love.

And while all these women were marching with solidarity, many had conflicting views.  This is most valuable lesson I learned from the march: to listen.  

I am buoyed by the women on that bus. We have a group now on Facebook and we keep each other strong. We share action plans and information on real vs. fake news. And we’re committed to each other, to the truth and to knocking down discrimination wherever we find it.

—Greta Weiner is an online consultant and social media director for Elbow Room Magazine.

If you want to commit to action, here are several resources:

The Women’s March 10 actions in 100 days.
https://www.womensmarch.com/100/  

The United State of Women
http://www.theunitedstateofwomen.org/how-to-get-involved/

Indivisible – A practical guide for resisting the Trump Agenda
https://www.indivisibleguide.com/