There currently exists, it would appear, an air of defiance and need to triumph as unprecedented is the massive outrage that motivated more than a million people to take to the streets during and one day after the inauguration of controversial Twitter-friendly Donald Trump.
Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, thousands of people took to the streets across the nation protesting the Trump inauguration going on in Washington, D.C. In Brooklyn, fired-up residents held placards high declaring “NOT OUR PRESIDENT,” as they rallied through the community from the downtown area through Fort Greene and Clinton Hill to Bed-Stuy. A reported 400,000 people jammed Midtown Manhattan Saturday as 1 million people demonstrated in Washington.
“The protests and marches are a shift toward a more progressive agenda,” said Marq Claxton, director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. “The clear and present danger that is the Trump presidency appears to have inspired diverse groups to support each other’s common interests. The Trump selection has created fertile ground for a wide ranging socio-political revolution. The protestors found common interests and causes.”
As the postelection/inauguration fallout settles, the news media, aka, the Fourth Estate, the voting and nonvoting public, workers, unemployed, students, the great-of-health and the medically challenged are figuring out how they are going to navigate this new Trump administration era.
With his xenophobic “America First” rallying cry and vision, alongside his threatened cuts to affordable health care and Social Security and his changes to longstanding international relations, arts and civil and societal rights, people are nervous about what may happen to women’s reproductive rights. This concern arises as Trump is poised to pick his new Supreme Court nominee, install Exxon’s former CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and Mike Pompeo as CIA director, and make the equally controversial Betsy DeVos his Secretary of Education.
“In less than a week Trump signed orders that declared war on everyone already in the trenches for justice and we have a little over 1,400 days to either fight or fail,” documentary filmmaker Dami Akinnusi-Rock told the Amsterdam News. “Ultimately people will die unnecessarily under his presidency and we should all march, not just for the anti-abortion global gag rule, but for those in Flint and the countless Black folk dying at the hands of the police. After marching, we must also take action against the policies he’s pushing.”
Declaring success as “more than 500,00 people march peacefully through the streets of New York City,” Teresa Ginsberg and Katherine Siemionko stated, “The Women’s March on NYC is the beginning of a global movement. On Saturday, January 21, we achieved our goal of uniting women and their allies in an historic show of solidarity. Our immediate next step is to hold Trump to his promise to enact paid maternity leave and equal pay for women. All women, both those who voted for Trump and those who voted against Trump, have a stake in the culmination of these two laws. Once we have reached success with these efforts, we will advocate for passing legislation and funding for health care and social services like rape kits and battered women shelters, hold the United States Government accountable to the Paris Accord, remove the statute of limitations on rape, and tighten the language in Titles 7 and 9 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to maximize its effectiveness. We have a long road ahead of us. [The] March was both a preview of our strength and a statement of our commitment to achieving equality.”
In their statement, Ginsberg and Siemionko noted, “The peaceful march was in solidarity with millions of marchers around the world, and the crowds exceeded our expectations of about 100,000 people. Estimates range from 400,000 to 750,000 people. The Rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza was overflowing with seas of people, as grassroots activists, community leaders, artists, and local politicians joined MC Rosie Perez on the stage. Speakers included Whoopi Goldberg, Public Advocate Letitia James, Cynthia Nixon, Dame Helen Mirren, Nelini Stamp, Cesar Vargas, and First Lady Chirlane McCray.”
Hugely successful in terms of numbers, but the Women’s March, had a distinctively white women-led, and majority white-attended turnout. Many Black folks both in attendance and observing shared sentiments such as “Welcome to our world,” or as one veteran activists told the AmNews, “We’ve been marching. Where were white women when the Sandra Blands and Rekia Boyds were being murdered?” Another commented, “White feminism was built on the backs of Black women.” However, others saw a positive agit-propaganda value in raw activism.
Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez brought much needed diversity to the co-organizing, to the ranks and to the stage of the Teresa Shook-inspired/Bob Bland co-organized Women’s March on Washington. They brought to the conversation the issues and concerns of Black, Latino and Palestinian people, alongside dynamic talking and mobilizing points from the likes of Professor Angela Davis, Janelle Monáe, Gloria Steinem, 6-year-old immigrant rights activist Sophie Cruz and Alicia Keys.
“Today is not a concert,” veteran activist Mallory told the tens of thousands of people before her in D.C. Saturday. “It is not a parade, and it is not a party. Today is an act of resistance. Now, some of you came here to protest one man. I didn’t come here for that. I came here to address those of you who say you are of good conscience. To those of you who experience a feeling of being powerless, disparaged, victimized, antagonized, threatened and abused, to those of you who for the first time felt the pain that my people have felt since they were brought here with chains shackled on our legs, today I say to you, welcome to my world. Welcome to our world. I stand here as a Black woman, the descendent of slaves. My ancestors literally nursed our slave masters. Through the blood and tears of my people, we built this country. America cannot be great without me, you and all of us who are here today.”
Mallory continued, “Today you may be feeling aggrieved, but know that this country has been hostile to its people for a long time. For some of you, it is new. For some of us, it is not so new at all. Today I am marching for Black and Brown lives, for Sandra Bland, for Philando Castile, for Tamir Rice, for Aiyana Stanley-Jones, for Eric Garner, for Michael Brown, for Trayvon Martin and for those nine people who were shot at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. We have a chance, brothers and sisters, to get this thing right. We can do it, if women rise up and take this nation back!”
Davis held nothing back as she told the riled up crowd, “Over the next months and years, we will be called upon to intensify our demands for social justice, to become more militant in our defense of vulnerable populations. Those who still defend the supremacy of white, male, hetero patriarchy had better watch out. The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance—resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music. This is just the beginning. And in the words of the inimitable Ella Baker, ‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.’”
Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams detailed how he spent the inaugural weekend resisting, getting arrested and making a pledge to keep the fight on the ground and constant. On Jan. 20, elected officials, advocates, community members and clergy were arrested for civil disobedience outside of Trump Tower after a news conference and rally protesting Trump’s inauguration.
Williams said, “I am a believer in nonviolent resistance, but we have to disrupt a structure that is unjust. We must resist from day one. We’re fighting for everyone, even those who don’t understand what they’ve done by voting for Trump. We are going to continue moving forward because we know we are on the right side of history.”
Protests were global indeed, Williams noted. For example, Councilor Beth Knowles form Manchester, England was joined by Nahella Ashraf, chair of Stand Up to Racism Manchester.
Friday, with a coalition that includes fellow activist groups, trade unions, local and European Parliament politician, Ashraf held the Stand Up to Trump protest in central Manchester.
Ashraf said, “As Stand Up to Racism, we are proud to be organizing the Stand Up to Trump mobilization here in Manchester, as part of a national day of action with over 50 events taking place across the U.K. to mark the inauguration of President Trump”
Ashraf concluded, “The election of Donald Trump is deeply disturbing and a stark warning to us all. Trump’s election is encouraging and legitimizing a backlash against women’s and LGBTQ rights. But the outcome is far from settled. It entirely depends on how we—at home and abroad—react. Our values of respect and cooperation represent the views of millions. Time is short. We cannot allow racism to seep deeper into society and, whatever our differences, we must unite together to meet this serious threat. We proudly stand with our brothers and sisters in the U.S. in their fight against the hate and bigotry of Donald Trump.”
“What we are witnessing right now is a divided country of people; one side is all about Trump and his viewpoints on what America is supposed to be, and the other side is those of us who want to continue the mantle of what President Obama envisions for America to become,” said Jamell N.A. Henderson, MPA National Urban Fellow 2016. “In one day, the entire world came out and spoke out against a man who won an election that will enforce his ideologies onto the public because he feels its best for the country. While I am extremely proud of the massive moments against the Trump administration, I am very much concerned that in 100 days from now, that momentum will cease. This is the time where we must tap into the spirit of generations past, who were consistent in fighting and pushing the agenda for equality and rights for all citizens every day. This is the time where that energy needs to be used to also create or enhance organizations that will help carry the torch of ‘Yes We Can’ and continue to invoke the ‘Change We Believe In.’”
Activist Henderson added, “This is also the time where we no longer sit on the sidelines, where we get in the game and run for public offices throughout our respected cities and states. This is the time to really disrupt and greatly damage the establishment, or the ‘machine’ if you will, and run because you know in your heart, you can make the greatest impact of change in your respected area you wish to serve. This is the time, where we have to continue to use that same momentum to fight for civil rights, immigration rights, rights of LGBTQ, rights of our military and veterans, and everything in between. We have a lot of work to do and in going forward, these strategies will greatly impact the agenda of this administration that is aimed to set us back to days of old.”
Assemblyman Charles Barron urged the need for historically correct analysis, telling the AmNews, “Any and all protest against Trump is a good thing! But don’t be fooled by the neo-conservative and neo-liberal Democrats who are protesting Trump. Their policies hurt our communities. The wolf’s bite is obvious. The fox’s bite is subtle. Both are devastating. We must turn mobilizing to organizing for our Liberation.”