By Shepherd Bliss
(Santa Rosa, California)
The first American Revolution was lead by white men. They defeated the powerful British Empire and gained our independence in the 18th century. The people won.
The second American Revolution, the Civil War, abolished slavery. It was inspired by leaders such as Sojourner Truth and Abraham Lincoln, in the middle of the 19th century. The people won.
During the 20th century, especially its second half, the U.S. became an Empire. It expanded its imperialism, colonization, and wars of domination around the globe, killing millions of people in the process.
What might be described as the possibility of a third American Revolution may have received its opening salvo with women’s marches on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after the 45th president of the U.S. was inaugurated. These marches drew millions of people to over 600 cities around the world to object to the policies of the new president.
“We are in another revolution,” said Grange officer Gary Abreim on the following day at a training for non-violent action outside the small town of Sebastopol, California. “This one is a revolution of the spirit.”
Nearby Santa Rosa’s daily newspaper, the Press Democrat (PD), had a front-page article describing it’s city’s march as “a vibrant political rebellion.” The moderate publication’s headline read “SR Marchers Show Solidarity in Revolt.” A black Muslim woman in D.C. said, “We’re ready for a revolution,” after which “I am a revolutionary” chant went up.
Though there were important liberation movements with the civil rights, women’s, gay, and other struggles during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, especially during the 1960s, it was not until this Jan. 21 that millions of people in the U.S. and beyond took to the streets to object to the discriminatory policies of a new president.
This revolution is clearly being spear-headed by what the new, untested president calls “nasty women,” a term these liberators have accepted to describe themselves. Their allies include people of color, immigrants, Muslims, people of diverse sexual and gender identities, the disabled, and others who object to the rise of sexism, racism, homophobia, and other oppressions. Groups such as Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood were at the forefront of the marches.
Moveon.org describes the marches as “the largest set of protests in US history—a gorgeous showing of our resilience, strength, and solidarity.”
Video clips from around the world:
Official estimates were that 150,000 gathered in Chicago, 125,000 in Boston, and 175,000 in Los Angeles. The march in D.C. far outnumbered those participating in the presidential inauguration, perhaps by twice as many people.
5000 People March in Santa Rosa
This revolution, so far, has been non-violent, inclusive, and based on love. The PD reports that Santa Rosa police “Lt. John Snetsinger said the crowd was ‘easily more than 5,000.” He described it as “one of the largest free-speech events we’ve ever had in Santa Rosa.”
The official police report added, “The crowds were very peaceful and well-organized and consisted of people of all ages. There were no disruptive incidents reported.” Many families participated, including parents with strollers and infants in their arms and elders at least into their 90s.
Their adversaries, such as the Klu Klux Klan, have a lot of fire-power, which they have already used to threaten and even kill innocent African Americans, brown-skinned people, and other non-white and non-Christian people.
On the morning of Jan. 21 this reporter listened to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now Pacifica radio program broadcasting live from the D.C. march, then headed to Santa Rosa, population 160,000.
Among elected officials who spoke were Congressman Jared Huffman, who was one of more than 60 Democratic members of Congress who refused to attend President Trump’s inauguration. Other elected officials marching were State Senator Mike McGuire, Sonoma County Supervisors Lynda Hopkins and Shirlee Zane, Santa Rosa Councilmember Julie Combs, Windsor Mayor Deb Fudge, and Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenzie, Sebastopol Mayor Una Glass, and Sebastopol City Council member Sarah Gurney.
Supervisor Hopkins wrote the following in an email after the march:
“I left the Women’s March in Santa Rosa feeling inspired and energized. When I saw photos from friends across the country sharing their images, I actually got teary-eyed. Women, children, and yes, men, were standing up for the things I believe in. All of us were standing up peacefully in support of equality.”
“I got a glimpse that we can be part of a worldwide awakening of progressivism. This movement wasn’t just against Trump,” Hopkins continued. “It was FOR shared values. That makes me think of the 1960s — when the antiwar movement intertwined with the civil rights movement. It’s important not just to stand against things, but to find a common thread of values to support. Today, that common thread stretched around the world. As one sign said, ‘It’s 2017. I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit.’ It’s time to move forward — not backwards. The world is ready.”
“We want our president to know we are not backing down,” Former Rep. Lynn Woolsey told the group in front of City Hall.
Rep. Huffman echoed Barack Obama’s words in his final days as president “that being an American is not about where you’re from, or what you look like, what language you speak, how you worship, who you love. It’s about an ideal that we are all created equal.”
Rep. Huffman put a pink hat with cat ears on, which many of the protestors wore to draw attention to Donald Trump’s nasty comments about women and his abuse of them.
Among the many signs were the following: “No person is illegal,” “Women’s rights are human rights,” “Keep the immigrants, deport Trump,” “Not my president,” and “We the people means all of us,” and “My pussy is not up for grabs.”
“I felt angry as I approached the march,” said Woody Hastings of the Climate Protection Center. “Angry that we still have to hit the streets and protest such backward thinking. As I mingled with the good sisters and brothers and chuckled at the many clever and humorous signs, I started to lighten up and be happy. My sign read:
1920: Women get the vote,
2020: Women get the White House…. PLEASE!!!
and that gives me something very positive to work toward over the next four years.”
“It was an emotional day for me,” reported activist Janus Matthes of Wine and Water Watch (www.winewaterwatch.org.) I saw two women clearly in their late 80’s, dressed in black and wearing pink hats, one in a walker, one with a cane helping the other. It set the tone for the day and brought tears to my eyes. A small girl dressed in pink lead us in “This little light of mine…I’m going to let it shine.’ It was a day of peace, hope, community and resistance.”
The Women’s March in Washington, D.C.
“We demand to be seen and heard,” was a familiar phrase at both marches. “We refuse to be marginalized, sexualized, and de-humanized. We count,” was said. “We are not silent any more. Together our voice is powerful. This is what democracy looks like. We are here to ignite change.”
The D.C. march had at least twice as many participants as Trump’s inauguration, which had half as many as President Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
“This is an extraordinary day,” observed newly elected California Senator Kamala Harris to the more than one million women and their allies in D.C. “We all should be treated equally,” she noted. “Immigrants represent the heart and soul of this country.” Nearly a dozen other African-American female Congresspersons joined her at the D.C. march.
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.), a wounded combat veteran wore her “Don’t f___ with me” jacket. “I didn’t give up literally parts of my body to have the Constitution trampled on … to have them roll back our rights,” she said. Sen. Duckworth lost her right leg near the hip and her left leg below the knee while serving as an Army helicopter pilot in Iraq. “You will not roll back our rights, not as long as we’re here, not as long as we’re breathing.”
African American Van Jones of the San Francisco Bay Area, former member of Pres. Obama’s team made an impassioned plea to “real conservatives” to abide by the Constitution. He advocated “inclusivity,” and made an appeal to everyone “against hate and putting down red-state voters.” Another speaker called for “tender equity for all.”
“We must protect women,” another male speaker declared. “Do not discriminate against women. It is because of women that I am a man.”
One young girl spoke in Spanish: “To the children, I say, don’t be afraid. We are not alone. There are many others on this road. Si, se puede,” a chant which the listeners echoed.
“I march for Mother Earth,” an Indigenous woman from Oklahoma declared. “As the Standing Rock water protectors say, ‘Water is life.’ You will not steal our land. It’s a Standing Rock moment. Indigenous people say no to pipelines and wars for oil.”
It remains to be seen if this was merely a well-organized, highly successful one-day event, or the start of a truly non-violent mass movement.
(Dr. Shepherd Bliss is a retired college teacher who has contributed to 24 books and farmed for the last two decades.)
Pictures From Women’s
Marches on Every Continent:
thanks to the NYTimes for video clips and photos