If there’s one good thing the Trump presidency has brought us, it’s the annual Women’s March. Begun as a response to Trump defeating Hillary Clinton, the first woman to earn a major party nomination in the United States, the march attracted nearly half a million people to Washington, D.C., on January 21, 2017, the first full day of Trump’s presidency. As the New York Times reported, the crowd was roughly three times the size of the crowd that assembled for Trump’s inauguration the previous day. In addition, the Washington Post estimated that a total of 3 to 5 million were out marching in cities and towns all over the nation, putting it in contention for the largest single-day demonstration in recorded U.S. history.
One of those marches was the Pioneer Valley Women’s March, held at Pulaski Park that same day. The Daily Hampshire Gazette published an estimate that 3,000 people were there, with Mary Ford — Northampton’s first elected woman mayor — climate activist Marty Nathan, and since deceased peace activist Frances Crowe among the speakers.
“All we have is one another. Don’t try to do it alone,” Crowe said at the time.
Another speaker, Diana Sierra of the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, echoed this theme.
“Winning is possible. History demonstrates, when ordinary people like you and me, the oppressed, organize, we can tackle institutions responsible for inequality in our society,” she said.
That sentiment is as important as ever, as Virginia is poised to be the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, which would guarantee equal legal rights for Americans regardless of gender. That action could mean that the amendment — first introduced in the 1920s, but not passed by Congress until about 50 years later — could finally become law. At the same time, in a malignant effort to maintain the unacceptable status quo, three Republican attorneys general from Alabama, South Dakota, and Louisiana are suing to block the amendment’s passage.
The march continues in the Pioneer Valley, as it has for the past three years. This year’s event will take place in Springfield on Saturday, Jan. 18, with a focus on calling for climate action as well as justice and equality for women and gender-oppressed people.
“The Pioneer Valley Women’s March is more than just a protest march, it’s an event that brings together women and allies for the betterment of us all,” wrote Jeannette Rivera of Chicopee, the regional outreach director of the march in a statement. “We want to call attention to the needs of the marginalized, offer support, and to provide a space for collective action.”
My son was born less than a week prior to the original march in 2017. Though our family wasn’t able to get over to Pulaski that day, we did stage a three-person solidarity march to Washington Avenue in Northampton, about a block away from where we lived — our first walk as a family.
The following year I did get down to Northampton’s march — with my son strapped to my chest — following along behind someone holding a sign that read, “Vote as if your life depends on it.” People heeded that call in months prior to the march, with Democratic wins in Virginia, New Jersey — and most improbably — Alabama at the end of 2017. Later, of course, was the 2018 Blue Wave that saw Democrats recapture the House and achieve many other wins around the country.
This year — which hopefully sees the end of Trump’s presidency (one way or another) — we will again be called to go to the polls. Events like the Women’s March remind us that we are not alone in the fight for equal rights, and that people of all genders continue to struggle for justice.
This year’s march will begin at Northgate Plaza, 1985 Main Street, with people gathering at 11 a.m. There will be music and speakers until noon when the march begins. The march will end at Springfield City Hall, 38 Court Street with a rally, activist fair, and yoga for activists.
Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.