By Kamrin Baker
My first thought upon entering the crowd of about 8,000 people was conflicting and authentic: I am so excited to march today, but I shouldn’t have to.
A year after the inaugural Women’s March, the Trump-led government is shut down, and while legislation against women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants–and honestly, all other minorities– should make us feel differently, the main theme of the event is hope.
Speakers articulate feelings of love, support and partnership in the battle for equal rights. Young girls are either perched on their dad’s shoulders or holding their mom’s hand. College-aged women smile; for so many, this is just the beginning. Families and friends gather– some with dogs, some with festive T-shirts, and some with vulgar posters– to speak their minds, their truths.
Teams of little girls announce that they can be president, and “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy echoes in the Gene Leahy Mall. Welcome to 2018. Is it what you pictured?
After a countdown by Omaha Girls Rock, the chants begin. “This is what democracy looks like!”
Posters are raised in the 45-degree air, strangers stop for photos, Old Market business-owners take a break to clap and cheer, and as quickly as it started, the march slows to an end. The striking thing, though, is that people are slow to leave. They remain on the sidewalks, chanting and cheering, even after police clear the streets. I understand this unwillingness to leave a metaphor for the movement.
Someone says “see you next year.”
And although there were posters and signs carrying messages of hope and love, the greatest sign was that of the changing times.