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DC march draws busloads from Rivertowns

By Jackie Lupo
PHOTO BY ELLEN CRANE

A march participant holds a sign made by artist Diane Brawarsky of Hastings.

 

REGION — They boarded buses, trains, and cars in the predawn darkness, coffee cups in their hands and cat-eared "pussyhats" on their heads. Some were old enough to remember marching for women’s causes half a century ago, and wondered why they had to march for the same issues today. Others were teens who were about to learn their first lesson in political activism.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, Day One of the Trump administration, an estimated half million peaceful demonstrators converged on Washington D.C., for what was billed as the “Women’s March on Washington.” Millions more held demonstrations in other cities around the world, all meant to send the message to the new administration that women refuse to give up their hard-won rights, or to condone a government that would deprive people of any race, religion or national origin of theirs.

The Rivertowns, where the majority of voters supported Hillary Clinton in the November election, sent a sizeable contingent of demonstrators to Washington. Two chartered buses embarked from Hastings and another two from Dobbs Ferry. In many cases, entire families made the trip. Irvington residents Beth Ryan and Michael Hanna drove to Washington with their 14-year-old eighth-graders, Kate and Ruby.

“I think we as a family decided to go for many reasons, but a main one was that we believe that it’s really important to be active about social justice,” Ruby Hanna told the Enterprise. “I’ve been shocked, upset, and angry this past year by how poorly Donald Trump talks and thinks about women. [The pussyhats were an allusion to lewd remarks he made during an "Access Hollywood" taping in 2005.] Sexual assault is not OK. Body shaming is not OK. Women need to show their strength.”

Ruby’s sister Kate described “an overwhelming feeling of love and a togetherness. A feeling that we were fighting the same fight and it was going to be OK.”

The crowds swelled to almost twice the expected size and the anticipated march turned out to be more like a swirling rally, with about two hours’ worth of speakers ranging from entertainers to pioneers of the feminist movement to mothers of black men killed by police.

Writer Sonya Terjanian of Dobbs Ferry said that when her 12-year-old son Remy and 14-year-old daughter Violette heard about the march, it was their idea to go. The family boarded a bus at Dobbs Ferry High School at 5 a.m., and after being caught in a traffic jam of buses approaching the capital, arrived at a parking lot at RFK Stadium that was “a sea of buses.” “We were immediately surrounded by people wearing the pink pussyhats and carrying signs,” Terjanian said. “It was just immediately an exhilarating feeling, being part of this huge phenomenon that was happening.” Terjanian reported some initial worry about being in the packed crowd. “I said to myself, if one person loses it, we’re in trouble. But everybody was very calm, very polite. The energy was very positive. It was peaceful. I managed to hang onto my kids, which was good. In a lot of ways it was like a big party, but you knew the people were serious.”

Hastings artist Lindsey Taylor, who helped local residents prepare signs for the march, was impressed by “how incredibly polite and generous everybody was down there — the police officers, the security people, the military people, were all incredibly polite and friendly. Despite all the hype and worry about safety and such, luckily all of it was for naught. The organizers and the volunteers were great. There are a lot of things that could have happened, and they just didn’t.”

For Taylor, supporting the Women’s March was “not a Democratic position or a Republican position, but coordinated by individual people, and it’s about issues… a lot of issues people can agree on — the environment, the right to choose, health care. I hope that keeps on driving people to be motivated. I don’t want it co-opted by the Democratic Party specifically. If they want to join in, that’s great, but I don’t want them to take it.”

Dobbs Ferry photographer Ellen Crane also noted that the event, which was initially organized by white women, grew to embrace wider issues, so that the march became am expression of “intersectional feminism — the view that women experience oppression in varying configurations, influenced by the intersecting systems of society.” In this theory, she explained, race, gender, type of employment, immigration status, sexual orientation, are all intertwined. “I felt that most groups that felt they are not represented properly in this country still, were there,” she said. “And their voices wanted to be heard.”

Rebecca Baron, a 15-year-old sophomore at Dobbs Ferry High School, went to the march with her parents, Tracy and Robert. “It was my first march,” she said. “I plan to attend more over the next four years.” She is working on starting a chapter of The National Organization of High School Democrats at her school. “I think young people want to get involved,” she explained, “and when something like this [march] happens, people jump on the chance.”

For her, climate change “is a huge deal, and the fact that Donald Trump’s administration has removed the climate section from their web page is disturbing and extremely upsetting.” She added that other issues, such as women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights, “are things that should not be as controversial as they are. These are not crazy things to want. But the fact that these things have become so compromised in this election is scary.”

What comes next? Rebecca asked her mother if the march changed anything. “She said it shows our opinions are going to have to be heard," the teen said. "But I think the real change will come in the midterm elections in 2018.”


Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the Rivertowns Enterprise. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.


 

January 27, 2017

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