Why am I Marching?
Monthly thoughts from individuals who attended the Women’s March on Washington in January

By Monica W. Tracey

I Took My Daughters to Washington DC.….

The sun began to rise on this January morning as we quietly walked past the police and lined barricades heading toward the staging area. Nodding and saying good morning I wondered if I made the right choice bringing my two daughters to Washington D.C. As I reflected on those who asked me “how I could take my daughters to protest,” something I had never before done in my life, I said to myself “How could I not.”

How could I reconcile staying home when my 2 daughters live in a country where they, working full time, earn 20% less than the men working alongside of them while they perform the exact same jobs? How could I as a woman look these two beautiful young women in the eyes and be silent as they watched a misogynist leader take over the country we live in displaying his contempt, objectification and belittling of women? How could I not model the requirement to stand alongside women and men who are more vulnerable than I due to the color of their skin or the God they pray to? How could I pretend that the civil rights of my daughters were not threatened?

But this day was much bigger than them. This was a day for us to stand, to walk, and to advocate for the rights of all of us in this county. It was a day for human rights. This was a day to display what the “United States” is. We are a county of immigrants; my daughters proud that I am first generation. We are a country who not only lives with the belief we can do better but through our actions show that we can do better, in our attempts at bring healthcare to all, to protect the precious land we live on, to preserve the collective workforce who keeps this country going, to defend the words and actions our forefathers painstakingly documented securing the freedom of all religions and the rights of all who live here.

It has been estimated that this was the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history to send a message to the new administration on their first day in office that women’s rights are human rights. There were at least 500,000 people marching in Washington D.C. on that Saturday. As we stood close to the stage listening to the speakers, some of them women who have given their lives to fighting for human rights, we stood tall. We stood next to the man who brought his 13-year-old daughter, driving 7 hours from Virginia. “She made me bring her,” he exclaimed proudly. We walked with the family of 5, the father pushing the stroller carrying two of their three children, while the mother held the hand of their young daughter as she held a sign that said “peace”. We marched alongside a family with three generations of women, grandmother, mother and daughters who shared the hope and strength of each other while they guided the walker the grandmother needed to stand and march.

At the end of the day, after we stood for 7 hours waiting, after we listened to impassioned pleas to not have this be just one day but have this be the first day; after we marched, after we talked with countless others, we walked back to our hotel 3 miles from that initial staging area. And yet, everywhere we turned, even 3 miles away, there were more people who also decided they could not stay home.

We arrived back at our hotel, and as we entered the lobby, the male hotel management staff stood handing each marcher a glass of champagne. I graciously took the glass and thanked one of the managers and he said to me “this is our way of showing our support.” My daughters and I celebrated, our trip, our day, our march, but more importantly our decision to express what the United States is for all. As I looked at them that night I knew this was not a day, this was our first day. No longer would we be on the sidelines.

Since November 8th, 2016, many have said to me “He is not my president.” I took my daughters to Washington DC January 21st 2017 to participate in the Women’s March to say: “You are my president, you are my daughters’ president, and you serve us, that is what you chose to do.” Because of that choice, we will stand tall, we will not stay home, we will not pretend, and we will not close our eyes; we will use our voice, our strength and our vote.

Monica W. Tracey
Chicago, IL