As the Steelworker bus loaded up for the 12 hour drive to Washington DC for the Women’s March it was clear to anyone observing, that the riders reflected the diversity of our city. Union members from workplaces across Toronto were excited about the trip, joining with American sisters, brothers and comrades in pushing back against the right wing policies of the Trump administration. The response was immediate when the call went out and there were many brothers who were also eager to go.
We had no trouble crossing the border and viewed films such as “Bread and Roses” on the trip down, which started great conversations about the situation in the US and what we were facing here in Canada. No country is immune from the racist, misogynist politics that Trump personifies and we have our homegrown ideologues of the right. Everyone’s anticipation was building as we noticed that all the rest stops were full of others traveling to Washington. You could sense a popular movement building with people from all walks of life and backgrounds coming together to fight back against the reactionaries who have come to power in the US.
We stayed in Virginia outside of Washington the first night and at dinner the waitress wished us luck and said, “stay safe.” On the ride in the next morning our bus dropped us at a subway station that was packed with thousands of protestors from all over the east coast. We were told that every bus in Connecticut and New Jersey was booked for this day. People were thrilled that we had come from Canada and that we were trade unionists. The camaraderie was wonderful.
Solidarity and resistance
After the long line wound itself through the parking lot into the station we packed into the trains and we were on our way to the centre of the city. People were singing and chanting and whatever differences they may have had, there was a strong sense that this was a day that would go down in history and they were making it happen.
As we came up out of the subway we were met by masses of people. There were so many that the planned march could not take place and the demonstrators just took to the streets, every street. No one wanted to leave after the speeches ended. They want to feel the power of being among hundreds of thousands of others who would not be bowed by the victory of Donald Trump and everything that he represents.
In conversation with so many they talked about the depression that had set in after the election. Even if they weren’t Clinton supporters (Bernie pins were everywhere) they were overwhelmed by a sense of powerlessness and fear about what was to come. But it all started to change that day in Washington. They were beginning to feel an incredible strength and sense of renewal marching along side so many. The feeling of isolation was lifting and a sense of their collective power was really building. Exhilaration was the word so many were using to describe how they were feeling.
The number of hand made placards was incredible dealing with all kinds of issues: reproductive justice, racism and Islamophobia, Black Lives Matter, healthcare, stop the deportations, Standing Rock, homophobia/transphobia, disability rights, Planned Parenthood and many more.
The knowledge that millions of people were marching with them around the world meant a tremendous amount, and brought a confidence that they could take on the inevitable fights that were to come. There was a real sense that as important as this day was, it was going to be the grassroots work being done in their home states, cities and towns that would make the difference.
So the road a head demands that a movement be built and the potential is there to do it. The demonstration the following week that took place in New York City against Trump’s closing of the border to Muslims from so many countries shows that the will is there to do it and the resistance will continue.
Join the national days of action against Islamophobia and deportations Feb 4-5