A Groundswell of Participation: How Change Happens

Thoughts on the women’s march last Saturday, January 20, 2018, in San Francisco, California. One year after the shocking election of a President that lost the popular vote and is perceived by many to be divisive and a racist.

The subdued feeling was confusing—at first. Sure there were fiery speeches by women leaders with specific causes to advocate: the rights of undocumented citizens, the missing Native American women, the transgender. Their voices clear with the granularity of their message and equally impassioned with the outrage of injustice. The protest signs were forceful and sometimes as vulgar (“On top of every sh*thole is an arsehole”) as the current President, yet the 80,000 plus crowd never reflected the same fevered pitch of the keynote speakers. As if the people already had a plan, like prisoners planning a prison break. As the marching began down Market Street, a real solidarity of humanity and cooperation was the vibe. People showing real concern for others like someone who had tripped on a trolley curb or for how precious the children were in their hand-knitted pink pussy hats just being happy in their strollers. Not a feeling for the need to assert a dominating authority like fierce chanting so to be perceived as aggressive and dangerous. This was a smart march. At timely moments, a cheer would start at any given place in the crowd that swelled up and down the line of marchers like a wave, as if it were the manifestation of the groundswell of change that was going to happen in this year’s mid-term congressional elections.

 Yours truly at the January 20, 2018 Women's March in San Francisco, California.

Yours truly at the January 20, 2018 Women's March in San Francisco, California.

Richard Compton