Herself and I participated in the Women’s March held in Ashland, OR, a town of some 20,000 located at the southern end of the Rogue Valley. Ashland is well known as the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
As I sit here at my desk, I’m still trying get a handle on my thoughts on the event. How do I put into words emotions? Should I even try to explain the experience? I am a writer so, like it or not, I must.
The event was planned for 11:00 PST. We left the house at 9:00 as we wanted to stop and see my Mom before heading up the hill to Ashland. As usual for this time of year, it was raining. Not a soft, gentle sprinkle but an old-fashioned Oregon downpour, and I was worried the inclement weather would diminish the turnout. Mom was happy to hear we would be participating in the march. At 87, her active protesting days are over, the I got the feeling that she would have been right there with us if it weren’t for her frail body.
Arriving in Ashland, we parked the car at the home of our good friends Brain and Cathy who were joining us in the march. Walking through the city’s central plaza towards the library where the march was to start, Brian and I discussed the election and other events that lead to the need for people to gather in protest. Both of us understand how… I’m sorry but there is no polite way to say this … how the uneducated, gullible populace that makes up a large portion of this nation was easily lead to think the orange conman would “Make America White again.” What neither of us can understand is how anyone with even a modicum of intelligence and education could be taken in by such an obvious con. Racism and hate are powerful drugs that evil men use to entice and control.
The crowd became larger as we approached the meeting area just below the town library. I was pleased to see a respectable turnout. By then the rain had stopped and bits of blue sky were visible among the ever-present gray skies. We met up with more friends and chatted as we listened to the music blaring from large speakers on the library steps. As the crowd continued to gather, I began feeling better about the march. The last thing we needed was a lack luster attendance. Within a half hour the crowd had grown into a throng. People approached from all directions, many carrying signs and wearing pink pussy caps. When we arrived the mood was lighthearted. It soon became electric as more and more people gathered to voice their opposition to the fascist regime now in power. By the time the march started, we were on the edge of a proverbial sea of humanity. I have seen varying estimates of the crowd. I have been to the Ashland Fourth of July celebration where 10,000 people attended. This crowd was easily double that. The entire population of Ashland was in the streets.
I felt a range of emotions, joy, satisfaction, delight, and pride. As a writer, I am skeptical of things political so I was surprised to find I also felt the emotion of patriotism. I was and am proud of my community and my state.
That is all I have for now. As I ponder on the events of the day, I may have more to day, but for now I will leave you with one final thought. Yesterday I was filled with despair at the thought that this nation had fallen into a black abyss. Today I am encouraged and hopeful for the future.