People marched on 1/21. These are their stories: Vallerie Legeay

All I can tell you is that no man, woman, corporate or governmental entity is ever going to succeed in attempting to put me back in a box.

I went to the Women’s March on January, 21st 2017 on the Walkway in Poughkeepsie, NY. I didn’t realize what it actually meant to me until weeks later, when I was asked to write about it. For the past few months, I wanted to participate with this international response of resistance against a growing fascist unease taking place, not only in the US, but throughout the world. I am weary of crowds, so going to DC to join thousands of people was out of the question.

Then, perchance, I read on social media that old friends who I had not seen in over 15 years were going to the Walkway, so I reached out to them and arranged to meet them there.

I arrived at the site of the event at 8:30 a.m. on the Poughkeepsie side of the river. The place was already a mob house. I thought: “How am I ever going to find them in this colorful and bountiful crowd?” I felt a bit overwhelmed. I turned around and bam! They were standing right behind me. I called out to them and it felt as if we had left each other the day before. Oh! The beauty of friendship!

We quickly fell into step with the crowd and proceeded to catch up 15 years of our lives while walking back to the Highland side of the bridge. It was delightful and a bit surreal.

I left them there, promising not to wait the length of a generation to meet again!

I meandered my way back reminiscing on my own. When I had last seen them, I was an illegal alien, cleaning houses for a living. There aren’t many prospects for illegals in the US without a green card. So in 2001, I stopped running and confronted my sabotaging demons. I realized as I strolled looking at the oncoming crowd on the bridge that over the past 15 years, I had entirely reinvented my life.

I straightened out my immigrant status when I won a permanent resident card through the Green Card Lottery. I went back to school full time. I now have a thriving massage therapy and esthetic practice. In September 2016, I worked at the US Open tennis tournament with the greatest female tennis athletes in the world. I currently assist the track and field team at New York Military Academy School near West Point during their championship meets.

Looking down at the river, I remembered what it feels like to swim with its flow. Last August I took on the challenge to swim across the Hudson. It was one of my most exhilarating and scariest accomplishments to date.

I don’t know what will happen with this government; all I can tell you is that no man, woman, corporate or governmental entity is ever going to succeed in attempting to put me back in a box. At 52, I finally made the switch from surviving to living.

 

©2017 Nadine Robbins. Unauthorized use of the images and copy from these stories is prohibited.

People marched on 1/21. These are their stories: Susan and Kylie Mattsen

I may be an idealist but I believe our President should be at least at his very core a moral man or woman - this Trump is not.

I was fortunate to attend the DC Women’s March with my 13 year old daughter and some close friends. I felt compelled to go to the March because I, like so many, could not just sit and watch such a racist narcissist become President. The hateful racist misogynistic rhetoric he spewed throughout his campaign sickened me and I believe has caused a horrific resurgence in racism and discrimination in our country. The way in which he talked about grabbing a woman’s pussy is what truly haunted me and when called out about it he displayed no remorse. In my America a man who thinks in such a way about women along with his racist views of minorities should not be President. His actions and words quite simply show he is not a president for all the people. I may be an idealist but I believe our President should be at least at his very core a moral man or woman- this Trump is not. He played us against each other and did so using hate and scare tactics such as racial stereotypes to explain why American society is failing its poor and middle class. Unfortunately, many bought into this and now we are under his rule. The harm and damage he could do while President truly terrifies me and I am afraid will take years for us to recover from. Ultimately, I had to go to the March as my way of taking concrete action against Trump and his administration – to show my friends and family we cannot give up and we must come together now more than ever and fight to save our country from becoming another Russia or worse yet Germany under Hitler’s rule, just cleverly disguised by Trump as “Making America Great Again”. I truly believe and history has shown that when we the people gather in masses and work together we can change things and make things better. We can stand up to Trump and his administration and hold them accountable and demand they meet the needs of all the people and if they don’t listen, then yes, a movement to overthrow them is necessary.

 

©2017 Nadine Robbins. Unauthorized use of the images and copy from these stories is prohibited.

People marched on 1/21. These are their stories: Jeneva Brown, Tamara Bond-Williams, and Nancy Ewing

My name is Deirdra Jeneva (“Jen”) Brown. I am 52 years old and I live in Poughkeepsie, New York. On January 21, 2017, I joined with my Baha’i sisters Tamara Williams and Nancy Ewing, and tens of thousands of women across the country and around the world, in a show of strength and solidarity, speaking into a broad range of social justice issues, gender equity being just one of them. I was born into and formed by the era of civil rights protests. I was born a year after President Kennedy’s assassination, and I was a toddler when Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Dr. King and Robert Kennedy were murdered. I have no personal memories of these events; but my ideas about, and deep personal commitment to social justice was no doubt animated and infused by the events of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

I walk through this world as an African-American, as a Woman, and distinct from that, and perhaps most significantly to me, as a “Black-Woman.” Living at the intersection of “Black” and “Woman”, I found my voice (of necessity or by design) very early in life. I don’t remember a decade in my life when I did not push back publicly (protest) against institutional racism, gender discrimination, and criminal injustice while issues of sexual harassment, domestic violence and healthcare parity needed attention but were secondary. So obviously participating in a protest march wasn’t a challenge in the sense that it “took me out of my comfort zone.” I was already “activated” and marching; I had been for years.

I wasn’t sure what I would find on the Walkway on January 21, 2017. Would any sector speak into the impact of institutionalized racism on “Black-Women” our children, or would my “Black-Womaness” again (as usual) occupy a role of silent support to the wider, mainstream, largely white Women’s agenda. Who would be out there, who would be heard? Initially I resisted the idea of participating.

But I am also Baha’i. I am guided by a faith that compels me to speak into the social discourses of the day. My participation in building Unity upon a foundation of justice and Truth, is (for me) a spiritual imperative. So I went to the March. My husband prepared signs bespeaking principles of gender equality taken directly from the Baha’i writings. . . . and the March, for me, was a warm joyful, shower of spiritual affirmation. I remain hopeful about the work ahead.

©2017 Nadine Robbins. Unauthorized use of the images and copy from these stories is prohibited.

People marched on 1/21. These are their stories: Shannon Miller

I will never forget the feelings of sorrow pouring through me at that moment. The moment I apologized to my son, who towers over me, on behalf of our country, our generation.

In November 8th around midnight I set my alarm and turned off my bed lamp with a heavy heart and the same sense of hopelessness as about half of the voters in this country. The next morning, weeping as I wiped sleep from my eyes, I hugged my 16-year-old son closely. I will never forget the feelings of sorrow pouring through me at that moment. The moment I apologized to my son, who towers over me, on behalf of our country, our generation. Of course I had voted. I made an afternoon’s worth of phone calls on behalf of Hillary and Zephyr Teachout. We proudly planted yard signs at the end of our driveway where it intersects with our windy, country road. But it was not enough to look my two children straight in the eyes that morning.

When someone told me about the Women’s March I immediately knew that I had to go. I reserved a seat on a local bus that would leave from the parking lot of a nearby elementary school. The bus left at 2 a.m. to barrel towards our nation’s capitol. Local men and women filled three chartered buses to capacity. At 8 a.m., with wobbly knees and a faintly nauseous feeling from the ride, I stepped out into that parking lot and for the first time felt a resurgence of hope. That day, we walked 7 miles in the heart of our capitol shoulder to shoulder, I became a patriot. That day, as I strained my voice to be heard in the White House and Capitol Building, I became a citizen. That day, as I celebrated my right to publicly protest the speech and actions of our newly elected President, at the age of 48, I became a proud American.

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©2017 Nadine Robbins. Unauthorized use of the images and copy from these stories is prohibited.