It was an early morning on January 21, the day after the inauguration. Got up at 3 am, after a short night of tossing and turning, partly concerned to sleep through the alarm, partly alarmed by the events of the past weeks. There was no way on earth, I would sleep through the wake-up call, we are awake as it is!
A chartered bus organized by »Bust Magazine« offered a ride from New York City to Washington DC. A smooth and sleepy ride, we needed to preserve our energies, with a pit-stop along the road. Surprise, the rest-stop was overrun by pink hats! The day promised to be a good one. Upon arrival in DC, a few obstacles flew our way: a technical malfunction denied access to our signs in the trunk (they were rescued later!) and due to traffic, we arrived later than expected. However, we were eager to march! And so we did, sans signs. Although faint sadness about the loss lingered for the first few blocks, we quickly got our spirit back. Along the road to The Capitol, the path was marked with quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the houses were decorated with symbols representing women, equality, love, peace… and the occasional unicorn. How could anyone be sad at such a sight? Thank you, DC for a warm welcome!
Once we approached The Capitol and Independence Avenue, the masses were in full form. Chants from all sides, someone dressed as a polar bear as a bitter-sweet warning sign for climate change, heart-shaped balloons, drums, megaphones, signs, posters, banners. Due to the unexpected volume of protesters, the march didn’t march much; rather, one navigated through the crowds. Just as well. The vignettes and the scenes unfolding gave a lot of food for thought. The atmosphere was peaceful, warm and cheerful. Overall, one felt safe and hopeful, though the present and near future appeared (and appear) to be less so. As the love-fest went on, we continued to find stimulants for the heart and the mind along the way: Met a group of African-American ladies, who danced on a platform, chanted »Black Lives Matter!« (Hey, Ladies! Loud and clear!). Ran into a Muslim woman with a message and her friend. Saw an MC with a couple of drummers and a mission to stop the administration’s mission. Caught a few songs and words of wisdom by Madonna at the main stage (Hey, Fox News! Don’t criticize her language, there are bigger fish to fry! Ah- wrong channel…).
To our surprise, the police seemed to be under-represented, only a kind National Guard helped to guide us through the march. In regards to Trump supporters, I could only spot a small group of drunk »Biker’s for Trump« who slurred some songs. Gah! And a confused-looking guy with a »Trump/Pence« sign slipping across Constitution Avenue. Slim representation, real observations.
On a less-observing note– as a photographer it is my creative mission to capture moments in time. What I see inspires what I do and vice versa. In my images at the Women’s March, I observed emotions, thoughts and concerns, I documented the way people chose to express themselves and how they supported one another.
I would like to point out, the majority of women, who marched in Washington DC were white, including myself. In dialogs decades before, in conversations leading up to the march and soon after, we seem to find ourselves addressing similar, if not the same questions and problems and therefore it is critical that a discourse on race and feminism continues. It is critical that women and men of diverse backgrounds are listened to and actively supported, a lot of work lies ahead for white people on our joint path to racial equality.
[As] Photographers [we] hold a responsibility of telling a story by the selection of a subject and via an edit, among other choices. As so-called image makers, we create a narrative, we have the opportunity to change how race is seen and we can help pave the road to a world where opportunities are not limited to a privileged group. We can show inequality and visually ask for fairness. With social media as the power house of global communication available at our fingertips, an image can take a journey around the world and a voice can amplify in the name of change. In this spirit, I shot the Women’s March in Washington.
On a personal note, I marched to protect civil rights and women’s rights. I marched and will continue to march in solidarity and in hope that one day solidarity will be equality.
With gratitude to the organizers, who did an incredible job on all organizational levels, who fostered the joyful mood and supplied us with port-o-potties (Dixi-Klos) along the way. A great »Thank you« to my dear friend Laurie Henzel and »Bust Magazine« for getting us to DC and back! And to Michael Lavine, who came to the rescue of our signs.
A personal report by contributor-team-member Doerte-Fitschen Rath
Doerte is our girl in New York City! Originally born and raised in Hamburg, Doerte moved to NYC almost two decades ago where she works in the creative field ever since. She enjoys spending time with her friends, the company of her cat Eames and always wears the most beautiful shoes! Find more of Doerte’s everyday New York captures here.
All photo by Doerte-Fitschen Rath / Studio DF6