Well-Behaved or Not, They Made History

The nastiest women in West Michigan showed up in large numbers at the Grand Rapids rally in support of the Women’s March on Washington. Women and men alike were decorated in pink hats and armed in witty, yet powerful signs. While each individual showed up with their own reasons to protest, many issues that were addressed in Grand Rapids, and at all the marches across the world, were women’s rights — for all women,  immigration reform, healthcare reform, protection of the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights.

The event was held at and hosted by the Fountain Street Church in Downtown Grand Rapids. It lasted from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and had a schedule jam packed with some of Grand Rapids’ favorite poets, comedians, and musicians. Between each guest speaker, the Women’s March on Washington was being livestreamed on a projector in the front of the church.

The atmosphere was filled with love, support, and inclusivity as we watched hundreds of thousands of women stand up against societal injustices burdening women, female-identifying people, gender non-conforming individuals, and other target groups across the nation.

“We are at one with each other, we are looking at each other, not up. No more asking daddy,” Gloria Steinem, one speaker at the March in D.C., stated. “We are linked. We are not ranked. And this is a day that will change us forever because we are together. Each of us individually and collectively will never be the same again.” Even from 658 miles away, quotes like this created an earthquake of applause in the Fountain Street Church. This livestream created the reality that these issues are bigger than Grand Rapids and affect women all across the globe.

Angela Davis, renowned activist, former professor, and public speaker, addressed these issues in her speech in Washington, D.C.: “We cannot be made to forget that black lives do matter. This is a country anchored in slavery and colonialism, which means for better or for worse, the very history of the United States is a history of immigration and enslavement… No human being is illegal… This is a women’s march and this women’s march represents the promise of feminism as against the pernicious powers of state violence. And inclusive and intersectional feminism that calls upon all of us to join the resistance to racism, to Islamophobia, to anti-Semitism, to misogyny, to capitalist exploitation… We dedicate ourselves to collective resistance.”

Although the Grand Rapids march in solidarity initially planned to remain at the Fountain Street Church, many attendees decided to hold a peaceful march to Rosa Parks Circle and Calder Plaza. Chants echoed off the brick walls of downtown, amplifying the protest, symbolizing presence and pride. The city greeted the protesters with honks in solidarity, peace signs, and words of encouragement.

“The women’s rally is an incredible melting pot of supporters from all over, even just in Grand Rapids,” protestor Taylor Dibble commented. “I have been reminded that no matter how small I feel when these issues come about, there is an army of people behind the support for a change.”

Fountain Street Church does not plan to stop at rallying, but is contributing in the national 10 Actions/ 100 Days campaign. The first event was a card party where attendees wrote letters of concern to state representatives. It was held on Sunday, January 29 at noon until 2 p.m. More information about future events is available at www.facebook.com/FountainStChurch.

 

Photo credit: Allison Donahue

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