For the third straight year, I have live-drawn Women’s Marches in Washington DC and New York City. This year, I took a train down for the day to Washington and drew my impressions of what I saw and felt. I made the trip in part for myself, because I wanted to see where the movement was and where it may be headed. (more of my thoughts here at CNN.com)
What I noticed immediately was that it seemed very well organized. Workers greeted us as we emerged from the Metro, giving us directions to the rally. It was really cold, and when I inquired as to if there was a coffee shop nearby, I was directed to a stationary “warming shuttle,” the purpose of which was solely to help people get warm. There were a million porta-potties, probably more than they needed. The music that was broadcast on a loudspeaker was fantastic, and when they played Aretha Franklin singing “Respect,” the crowd responded by breaking out in dance and song. It seemed like it was the anthem of the day.
There were some pink hats on the heads of marchers — I frankly didn’t expect to see any this year. What there were a lot of were signs. Signs of all kinds: about voting, the ERA, intense (and sometimes vulgar) anger at the president, pleas for kindness, equality, inclusiveness, equality, freedom. There were not as many humorous signs this year, but clearly more signs in general. As if people wanted to not only be seen, but heard.
The crowd was racially mixed, with a good handful of men and a few children. Marchers represented many generations as well. The speakers were very diverse, from all religions, races, gender definitions and sexual orientation. It was a friendly and passionate crowd.
The signs and the speakers addressed the controversy that has followed this march in recent months, in fact it was dealt with head-on. In general, that attitude was warm, friendly and there was a feeling of a desire to be inclusive and not hateful going forward.
Since there were women’s marches all over the world on the same day, I now believe that this movement is about grass roots organizing in individual communities. This is as it should be. The large marches are effective in bringing national attention to the need for equality and respect for women. But how to acheive that will have to be done on the local level in many cases.
Electing women to higher office and as heads of companies, along with changing legislation, is key . But each individual community has to decide for itself how to implement change at the local level.
As a cartoonist, it’s my job to observe society. I see what needs to be changed and understand that the lionshare of change has to happen on the personal level. Change comes one person at a time.
For my editorial on this event for CNN.com, go here.