This is #5 in my ongoing series*, "Signs of Sisterhood" about the Women's Marches that took place on January 21, 2017, on the heels of President Trump's inauguration. I'm keeping this coverage of this historic event going in order to keep the energy alive during these challenging times.
My guest today is Christy Williams, long-time Texas resident.
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome back to OpEdNews, Christy. You participated in the Women's March on the day after Inauguration Day. You had several options and chose to march in Austin. How did you decide?
Christy Williams: Thank you, Joan.
When I heard that there was going to be a march in Washington to protest the Trump presidency, I immediately wanted to go and show my support for the resistance. However, I realized in short order that I wouldn't be able to go there, with flights and buses filling up, and I didn't know where I could stay. It just seemed unmanageable. So, I was really happy to find out that there was going to be a march at the Texas Capitol at the same time as the Washington March. A friend of mine was going to be in Austin for work at that time, so we agreed to go to the march together. The Dallas march was not organized until about three weeks before the inauguration, and at that point, the Austin plans were set.
JB: So, what was it like? We've been hearing lots from places more northward. I'm curious how the Austin march went and how, if at all, it was different from the other ones. Tell us more!
CW: I don't think it was any different despite the fact that it is in the south or in Texas. Austin is urban and largely democratic. I have heard that there are 150 people moving to Austin every day. It is a very cosmopolitan city.
JB: Quite true, but you simply lack the critical masses that can turn out 100,000 or more for an event of this type outside the South. How many Austinites showed up?
CW: I've heard estimates between 40-50,000 women, men and children. It was so exhilarating and a welcome antidote to the despondency, isolation, powerlessness and disillusionment I had felt since the election when I was shocked to learn that many of my fellow Americans were either racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobes who were ok with torture, nuclear war and further destruction of the environment, or were people willing to overlook those qualities and policies of the man they backed for president for reasons I couldn't fathom.
JB: That sounds like a very respectable turnout. Austin is, admittedly, a blue oasis. Give us some context, please. Was this an extraordinary crowd, size-wise, for Austin? I'm asking because crowd sizes across the country exceeded expectations and in many cases were the largest ever seen in those cities.
CW: Yes, it was an extraordinary crowd size. I had been to the Not My President and No DaPL [No Dakota Access PipeLine] marches in Dallas which drew very small crowds - under 500. It was amazing to be with so many people who were mobilized and energized to be heard. The Women's March in Dallas which was organized very late in the game, by the time the Dallasites had already planned to go to Austin, drew 8,000 - very respectable.
Right after we arrived, I got my picture taken at the Capitol. I am still hoping for peace on earth. [See photo at beginning of interview]
Friend Karyn, had wanted a p*ssy hat, and we stumbled across this priest who was knitting one that fit Karyn perfectly.
There were so many wonderfully creative and inspiring signs. Many of them were about women's reproductive rights.
There were some that were inspiration and about women's resistance and empowerment.
from Princess Leia to Angela Davis
from Angela Davis to creative outrage
Others about resistance to Trump and the Trump/Republican agenda.
From protesting new foreign policy initiatives to health care.
From support of the Affordable Care Act to general unhappiness directed at the brand new president
There were men, women, children, families and dogs all there supporting the rights of women and reminding us that women's rights are human rights.
Making a point with humor
to the more serious: our children and grandchildren's (and the rest of the world's) collective future
JB: Wow. Thanks for the photo treat! It looks like everyone had a gay old time. But now the party's over and we're all back home. Has this changed anything about the way you live your life or are you back to 'same old same old'?
CW: Yes, it has changed my life. I am inspired to resist. It's become a part-time job. I am signing petitions, writing postcards and calling my representatives, donating money, going to demonstrations, meeting with others for discussion and planning, and staying abreast of what government is doing. We have to work in whatever way we can to push forward the rights of women, targeted groups, families, animals and the planet.
JB: I noticed that your Facebook activity has also changed. What's going on there these days that's different than pre-March?
CW: I had been putting up some political posts along with the usual pictures and life events during the whole election cycle, but as the inauguration came closer, it became mostly political posts, some of them very dark. I know it's an echo chamber on my Facebook page, but I think we are drawing support and information from each other.
JB: Have you lost any Facebook friends over the volume and tenor of your posts?
CW: I don't actually know. I have unfriended one person who became verbally aggressive and I have unfollowed other people who are posting things that just get me too agitated.
JB: I hear you! Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?
CW: Each and every one of us needs to resist and not lose hope nor energy for this vital work. And, thanks, Joan!
JB: Well said, Christy. Keep up the good work and thanks for talking with me.
*Others in the "Signs of Sisterhood" series:
Women's March: Seattle 1.28.17