There’s no doubt that the Women’s March on Washington and its more than 670 sister marches around the United States and world made history. While the January 20 inauguration of President Donald Trump attracted some 160,000 people, the Women’s March the following day saw more than 470,000 in D.C. alone (and that’s a conservative estimate). Organizers put the total attendance at affiliated marches at more than 4 million.
As it goes with history making events, there is a risk of a single story taking hold, particularly because the run-up of the march was so fraught with racial and political tension.
Days before the march, for Colorlines, the Black feminist writer Jamilah Lemieux detailed early missteps and a bitter history with traditional White feminism that dissuaded her from attending. The Black trans activist Janet Mock, a speaker and member of the march’s policy table, criticized edits to the official platform that she said shamed and disappeared sex workers. The New York Times quoted White women who felt unwelcome after being reminded to check their race privilege at the door.
On the night of the march, some reported open hostility and attempted silencing masquerading as a call for unity. One Black D.C. attendee recounted in a private Facebook message still shared by hundreds how a White woman wearing a pink “pussy” hat tried to shove her off of a packed metro train after claiming that she’d posed a threat to her adolescent daughter. On Twitter, another Black woman posted about multiple White women telling her that her poster, which said, “Remember: White women voted for Trump” was counterproductive and divisive. A Native activist spoke of White women walking across her group’s prayer circle, “joking” about “Indians” still being alive, telling her and her group to quiet down their chants and taking pictures of her group while refusing to take their fliers about dangerous pipelines.* Trans people and allies on and offline called the proliferation of those tongue-in-cheek pink”pussy” hats clueless and exclusionary.
On site at the D.C. march, Colorlines videographer Tiye Rose and climate justice reporter Yessenia Funes found a massive, predominantly White crowd dotted with people of color who were upbeat, hopeful and proud to be marching (or standing) against Donald Trump. Taken with the pre- and post-march critique, these interviews make it clear that there is no single history of this history-making gathering.
Check out some of the live interviews below. You may even catch some feels in the process.
*Detail has been added since publication to convey that women of color besides Black women reported racist interactions at the D.C. march.