Last Saturday, women from across the US marched in the Women’s March on Washington. The goal of the March on Washington was to “affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination” in the wake of the recent presidential election. An estimated 673 sister marches happened in all 50 states and 32 countries to stand in solidarity with this message, one of which was right here in Tulsa. Around 610 people attended the Tulsa event according to the Facebook page.
The event drew crowds of people to John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, where organizers spent around 45 minutes talking to the crowd. Then, the groups split: those who planned to march, those who would walk around the labyrinth at the park and those who just planned to sit. Led by Peggy Pianalto, an organizer, the marching group walked from the park, around the Guthrie Green and back. The sheer size of people constrained to the sidewalk meant walking even this short distance took a considerable amount of time. When everyone had finally circled back to the park, organizers talked a little more, discussing ways attendees could continue to be involved in the movement. The microphone was then open to discussion from those who attended.
Those that gathered at the march represented the diversity within the city and the U.S. as a whole. Some came representing the LGBTQ+ community, while several priests wearing clerical collars walked as well. Two women arrived carrying signs, one reading “second-wave feminist” and the other, “third-wave feminist.” Plenty of children went with their parents, some even complete with signs reading “future feminist.” Topics such as fake vs real news and the environment were also present.
Unusual clothing pieces ran rampant in the parade. The most prolific of these were “pink pussy hats,” or pink hats with cat ears, representing President Trump’s infamous comment about where he grabbed women. Others wore shirts with uteruses extending the middle finger. A variety of equality slogans grazed other shirts. Some did come wearing Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders campaign shirts, but others wore variations on the slogan “nasty woman.”
The signs people carried emphasized the variety of topics the march covered. There were several variations on “love thy ____ neighbor” and opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. A few people set up stations where attendees could register to vote.
TU students also attended the march. Mallory Timmons was one of them, attending the march with her mother. “When I see opportunities to go out there and show how I feel about things, I go for them,” she said. She did, however, say that “as students, we look for [other] people to lead. I definitely am at fault for that. I don’t really know what to do on my own.”
Another student, Jesica Santino, said she had “never felt such a strong sense of community, and this was with mostly strangers whom I had never met before.” “Kowing that we were marching in solidarity with the millions of women marching in Washington and around the world” was an amazing feeling to her. After the march, Santino loved a poetry reading from the piece by Lauren Zuniga called “A Poem to Progressives Plotting Mass Exodus,” to liberals in Oklahoma. “Regardless of who is president, the president works for the people, and we will not go down quietly.” she said. “I have never felt more proud to be a woman then I did that day.”
One of those involved in organizing the march, Nancy Moran, emphasized how important the involvement of students was. “As an older person, I like to joke around that I want to suck the blood of young people because they’re so young and vibrant and fresh and have great energy and such idealism and such hope.”
Moran has been involved with organizing these events for many years, and said sometimes “when we’ve been around long enough, we can get tired and wonder if our efforts make any difference.” But when she is around young people, she said, “they’re creative and they’re savvy and their technological talents means that they can do so much.” During the Iraq War, she worked with TU students in rallies and to raise money for various causes, including domestic violence. According to Moran, “There are a lot of ways students can be active. We need them. They are the future. We need to step aside and let them lead.”