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My Oakland March

Dorothy Gilbert, 81, was one of 100,000 women who participated in the Women’s March in Oakland, Calif., last month. The experience energized her so much that she felt compelled to write a letter to her friends about it. We felt it captured the revitalized spirit of participation that has been sweeping the country as various groups voice their opinions in public demonstrations on various issues. We remain nonpartisan when it comes to politics but we believe that the ability of citizens to voice their opinions only serves to keep our democracy vibrant and healthy. — Ed.

 

Dear Friends,

I was one of what my newspaper calls 100,000, spread over 40 city blocks; it was one of the most deeply communal experiences I’ve ever had. People were different; their connection with one another was extraordinary, it was so alert and so warm. You could see and sense this, as far as you could see. For sure there were the signs and sentiments of protest, but one felt a profound connection, a deep awareness of people, a deep joy.

          

I hadn’t thought I was up for a two-mile march with friends so I drove, chastising myself for not taking BART to 12th Street; it turned out, of course, that BART was overwhelmed. After 20 minutes I found a small grungy parking lot a few blocks from Frank Ogawa Plaza. The fee was supposed to be $10, but—don’t tell anybody this—a woman saw me giving up and told me she was leaving, and gave me her ticket. I joined the march, pink pussy hat on my head and sign in hand. I had made the sign the day before at the Richmond Progressive Alliance office: it read, on one side, “Eternal Vigilance Is the Price of Liberty—and Justice!” and on the other, “—and Earth’s Fate!” As I walked and later stood, resting my fussy back against a building, I noticed that while both signs got responses, it was the “Justice”one that seemed to really move people, perhaps especially black men. Or do I think that because it was the terrible fates of black men, miscarriages of justice, that gave me the idea to put “Justice”? Faces changed, thumbs went up, people took pictures. The quote about vigilance and liberty is attributed to Jefferson, and I got it from my niece, a Presbyterian minister in Wisconsin. I added the “Justice” and the “Earth.”

People! It was a march for women, and people who like women; the marchers were of every age, size, gender, color and condition. Some were even in the air; three women aerialists danced up and down the tall face of City Hall, in the wet and blustery weather. All those men—and women—in pink pussy hats! Men, women and children with tasteful pink pussy ears fastened cleverly in their hair! People carried tiny babies, and little dogs; they walked with canes; they rode, pushed or self-propelled, in wheelchairs; two of the latter, very frail people, held signs saying “Make America Sick Again.” White people, as well as black, carried signs saying “Black Lives Matter.” The variety and wit of the signs, the range of feeling and opinion! “Girls Just Want to Have Fun . . . Damental Rights”; “This Pussy Grabs Back”; “Viva My Vulva”; “You’re So Vain I Bet You Think This March Is About You”; “We Shall Overcome”; “We Shall Overcomb”; “Sad”; “Love Trumps Hate” and “I’m With Her,” with arrows pointing in all directions. Some wonderfully witty comments have alas slipped from me.

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  • Cheryl Fleming February 20, 2017 at 8:40 am

    I find the use of the word “pussy” totally offensive to woman in general… I am fine with the march… but find the need to call the march by this name offensive to woman.. right out of Playboy mag… really girls? We are women not pussys

    Reply