Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Women's March in DC: The Prologue

Because Maggie is the President of College of Wooster's chapter of Planned Parenthood, it seemed likely she'd attend the march.

Along with women's issues concerning respect and reproductive freedom, she's an immigrant, a minority, and a new voter.

Wooster's Westminster Presbyterian Church contacted her about filling the eight seats they'd reserved for her group on their bus. The girls would be under the guidance of activist women who'd experienced previous marches.

Easy peasy transportation.  

While she was home for the holidays, preparations began. Details from the church liaison. Rounds of questions. Waiting lists. Times and places decided. Participant regulations texted. Metro pass snafus untangled.

It's not the 60s anymore. More is required than tie-dyed clothing and a poster.

When the official t-shirt arrived, I resorted to my best shrinking methods because her petite frame baffles all standard sizing. When the sleeves remained too long, I suggested visiting our seamstress. But Maggie said she'd make the best of it.

We found warm, flexible gloves for texting during the march.

I bought protein bars and foil-wrapped chocolates to fill her pockets. Because I love a metaphor, heart-shaped candy expressed my love for her courage, especially since she explained her 2017 New Year's Resolution is to fight complacency. She knows it's easy to hit LIKE on social media, another thing entirely to actually work for change, step by step.

Our local library staff wished her well, too, praising her strong character and adventurous spirit. Maggie smiled. I beamed.

A friend suggested I attend the march with Maggie. She saw the march as a grand mother-daughter gesture. "This is her defining moment. I'd be in her way," I said.

As I drove her back for the second semester, I asked for a picture of her in that t-shirt. And one of her with the campus friends traveling with her by bus. In my experience, Millennials love smiling group shots and momentous selfies. They flood FB. On a bus filled with supportive women, I knew there'd be no trouble getting a volunteer photographer. In Maggie's history, finding supportive, like-minded friends is a constant challenge. Finally she's found them, I believed.

I couldn't wait to see these pictures. They'd be right up there with the Disneyland picture of her squealing, enthusiastic hug for Winnie-the-Pooh at age three. Yes, it was adorable, but the incredible detail not captured on film was her letting go of our hands and running alone down the sidewalk. Never a risk-taker, she surrendered completely to a beloved presence.

I kept telling her what a significant life experience this would be. She'd be forever changed.

She's heard my horrific tales of being at Ohio University in May 1970 when the Kent State killings occurred. Riots eventually closed our campus. Students had 24 hours to clear out. My incredulous mother drove our packed car through the town's streets lined with armed National Guardsmen.

"I realized I was seen as the enemy," I add when I tell Maggie the story. "You never get over that."

I doubted she'd face weapons.

But I knew she'd end up feeling empowered. And changed.

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  1. Wonderful post, Karen. Thank you. I was more an observer than a direct participant in the NYC march, but I'm so glad I was there. It was exhilarating, and restored my sense of hope for the first time since, well, Election Day. Delighted to learn Maggie was there in DC. This gives me hope for the future. --Charlie

    1. You got out there on the streets as a supportive observer. That does indeed count. Every movement needs allies. Next I'll write about the march itself from Maggie's account. She'd text her various locations to us, so while we never saw her face, we were alerted to her presence at specific landmarks. Good enough.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks so much. I know how much you appreciate the whole mother-daughter journey.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you. The words that don't appear here, but certainly apply to Maggie, are from Shakespeare: "Though she be little, she is fierce."

  4. Oh my, Karen. I didn't realize you were at Kent State. So thankful that Maggie didn't have to experience that, but she will get to experience other things. Pain, fear, and courage, they are in the mix.

    1. I was actually a student at Ohio University, not far away. We had weeks of our own "retaliation" riots, as did many Ohio schools. Getting to class was a daily challenge, if you imagine bobbing and weaving around all that.

  5. Oh my, Karen. I didn't realize you were at Kent State. So thankful that Maggie didn't have to experience that, but she will get to experience other things. Pain, fear, and courage, they are in the mix.

    1. She's developing an incredible set of life skills.