Women’s March on Washington

In Your Everyday Vote by Sheila Ellison5 Comments

To We the People who were not able to march,

I will try to capture how the hope sucked out of me on November 8th was poured in waves of tears and laughter back into my soul during the Women’s March on Washington, a hope that bounced from face to face in a crowd buoyed by love. The words we the people have power I never imagined or felt before.

I finally understand the reason we fight for freedom and democracy.

As a teacher, a writer, a woman, a mother and daughter, I have preached my whole life that words matter, stories matter. So I went to the march holding tight to a story that rang true for me. I needed to show up and bear witness. I hadn’t filled in the details; the why or what happens next, I just took the first step. Go and bear witness.

As I marched, the signs moved me most. Each told a story of its own. I imagined the life that went with the words so carefully thought out and artistically expressed. A statement, concise and true, was proclaimed, held high, attached to an arm, a body, a heart. What triggered tears at unexpected moments was the diversity of stories and the FACT that words DO MATTER. They are all we have to express who we are, what we want, how we love.

Yes actions matter too, but words are the organizing principle, words turn into thoughts that direct our actions. Without the signs, without the words, the march might have been a sea of bobbing pink heads, instead the words floated above us as thought bubbles of sorts, and together we carried each other’s message, flowing down streets and through cities the world over in an sea love.

Some signs made me laugh; from women who recognized a captive, Melania, Blink Twice if You Need Help, and from powerful men, Super Callous Fragile Ego, Trump You Are Atrocious, Super Callous Fascist Racist Extra Braggadocious, from the crafty a sign with a piece of needlepoint pinned to it, I Made This So I Could Stab Something 35,000 Times, and chanted by the crowd over and over, We Want a Leader, Not a Creepy Tweeter, from others like me who rarely leave home, So bad, even introverts are here, and women of the seventies declared, You’re so vain I bet you think this march is about you, a lesbian couple with mischievous smiles penned, My Muslim wife is registered at Bed Bath and Beyond, for those aware our Supreme Court is in big trouble, In case of terrorist attack donate all organs to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and because I could hear my children’s voices in this sign, You know things are messed up when my mom is marching.

Some signs caused instant tears; the many women over seventy who wrote, I Can’t Believe I Still have to Protest this Shit, the apology Sorry World We’ll Fix This, the tragedy My grandparents escaped the holocaust for THIS shit, the promise that At Least Planned Parenthood has a Plan, the altered facts to come, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Czar/ Putin Made You What You Are, what we’ve lost, Obama Nation to Abomination and history repeating, We are the daughters of the witches you were never able to burn.

And every time this call and response started I wanted to laugh because there was so much energy and joy around me, but instead I cried. Tell me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like.

I woke up the morning after the march cradling the knowledge of what we the people CAN be, and I asked myself what will I choose to write on my sign; today, tomorrow, a month from now, five years from now. When I craft my life, my goals, my activism, what are the words I hold up as I enter the sea of others holding up their signs, written with words that do matter, the stories of life’s triumphs and struggles, held high in the hope that somehow, someday, we all might SEE and support each other.


  1. Sheila this is beautiful–made me cry again. So loved sharing that amazing experience with you in our tiny rented space–so much love and inclusion.

  2. Wow! You captured what I was feeling. Someone asked me why I went , now I can express it “Go and bear witness.” Keep writing, and maybe run for office!

  3. Wow! You captured what I was feeling. Someone asked me why I went , now I can express it “Go and bear witness.” Keep writing, and maybe run for office!

  4. I am so deeply, deeply grateful for what you do. Much love.

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