What is happening now is a whole new world, so far divorced and so far afield from what I believe about America that it is hard to know where to begin.
Both my husband, Jerry and I come from Italian American families. My mother was a first generation American from Catania, Sicily, brought to New York by her parents when she was six. I was raised as a “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor” American. This was the melting pot where the sum of its parts made the whole great. In college, my era emphasized diversity, equality, fairness and lending a hand to those less fortunate. Over the years, I have experienced many political agendas, I knew that I wasn’t always going to live under an administration that would support and foster all that I believed about America. I lived with what I could and worked through contributing, protesting and organizing to change (at least in some small way) what I felt was unfair or unjust. What is happening now is a whole new world, so far divorced and so far afield from what I believe about America that it is hard to know where to begin.
When I read about the Women’s March on Facebook and saw that it supported a number of important issues including the continuation of Planned Parenthood, I saw it as a vehicle to both express my support and give voice to my disappointment in the direction the country seemed to be taking. I had no idea what to expect of the March, but I had many friends who were participating and knew that their feelings about the current political agenda were very similar to mine.
Jerry and I chose to join the March in Manhattan. We keep an apartment there, not far from Trump Tower, which was the end point of the March. That morning, there was a feeling of elation in the air. You could see people pouring down every street toward Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, the starting point. The voices you heard were positive, as opposed to angry.
People with a purpose and a smile on their face were introducing themselves and shaking hands and providing directions. I can’t remember ever seeing as many people attached to a protest. Because of the sheer numbers, there was a certain amount of disorganization and heading down wrong streets, but no one got angry or discouraged. At one point a part of the group began singing “We Shall Overcome.” It started slowly and then grew and grew until, as far as I could see, people were joining in. Many people carried signs: Women’s Rights, Black Lives Matter, LGBT Rights, Support for Immigrants. I think my favorite might have been, “I’ve seen smarter cabinets at IKEA”.
It was a memorable day; and if we did not accomplish all the goals that we hoped to, we gave voice to a lot of them. It was a beginning and given that it was held the day after the inauguration; it wasted no time. Now, we are connecting with people who marched and some who didn’t and calling Congressmen and listening carefully and watching all that goes on. The people we know feel that there is a serious need to speak up and take peaceful action when we see unfairness or rights being denied or America becoming less the land of the free than we believe it is, at its best.
©2017 Nadine Robbins. Unauthorized use of the images and copy from these stories is prohibited.