Text & Photos: Brooke Williams
“You can’t always measure the effects of activist work; you just have to wish and pray that the message gets through.” — Yoko Ono
For the past 100 years, International Woman’s Day has been a day to celebrate and elevate all working women. This year, in light of the current political climate, the organizers of the Woman’s March on Washington along with activists all over the world, called for all women to strike, to abstain from all labor, to spend no money (unless in support of female owned or small allied businesses) and to wear red in solidarity.
At midday we gathered, along with over a thousand protesters, in midtown Manhattan to rally, to hear speakers and eventually to attempt to surround Trump Tower on Central Park West. About 40 activists blocked traffic by sitting down in the middle of Columbus Circle, fists in the air. 13 were eventually arrested. It was a stirring sight. The protests became very real as I watched many of the women with whom I have spent so much time over the past few months be handcuffed and escorted into a police van. Scenes from the Civil rights protests of the 1960’s ran through my head, but our current reality shoehorned itself right back into the foreground as I ran around with fellow organizers, searching for the cell reception we needed to download and save video footage of the entire event. Protecting our own voices, and ensuring that our version of the story remained accessible was of the utmost importance. Getting the message out is crucial.
Protests continued into the evening, as thousands gathered in Washington Square Park and then marched down to Wall Street. Others held a vigil in front of the 7th Police precinct demanding the release of our fellow marchers. In a way, women were more visible than ever on this day that the world was supposed to do without us. But for my family at least, these events established what has become the new normal. Marching in the streets, chanting and yelling, signs and fists in the air, before returning home freshly motivated to continue the more difficult and less photogenic work of activism: the phone calls, the organizing, town hall meetings, letter writing and educating that are absolutely crucial during difficult political times.