By Kim Christensen
Photos by Tumay Aslay
Feeling emboldened after the big gains in the women’s wave election in November, thousands gathered for the third Women’s March in San Francisco on January 19, 2019. A mix of emotions from joy, fury, rage and defiance, to sisterhood, friendship, solidarity and humor were reflected in the marchers’ signs and slogans. Mayor London Breed and Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke to the crowd in front of San Francisco City Hall, urging them to stay active and “stay woke” as Lee said.
Sharing the stage were artists, poets and leaders from an array of movements and organizations including the Native American Health Center, San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Transgender Initiatives, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, Planned Parenthood NorCal, Global Fund for Women, Coalition on Homelessness, Young Women’s Freedom Center, Spanish Speaking Citizens’ Foundation, Muslim social justice leaders, and activists raising awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
After two hours of speeches, the crowd’s energy was boosted by joining the walking wave of women on Market Street led by Native American and Indigenous women. Pink pussy hats were sprinkled throughout the crowd, along with giant Ruth Bader Ginsberg faces on sticks bobbing up and down. The Supreme Court Justice’s ‘Notorious RBG’ meme was still going strong, as were well wishes after she suffered a few broken ribs.
Young feminists in training – kids in red wagons, strollers, baby wraps, on shoulders and on foot – showed off their art skills on posters. One girl carried a “Pelosi Power!” sign with a hand-drawn portrait of Speaker Nancy Pelosi topped by a little gold crown. She was surprised when people started waving at her and she looked back to see Speaker Nancy Pelosi herself marching down Market Street. Other signs in the crowd said, “Stay Strong Nancy!”
Amy Morgenstern, a local artist attending her third Women’s March in San Francisco, was encouraged at the energy and turnout Saturday. “The good feelings actually started on the BART train, where women had a chance to chat and enjoy each other’s signs and creativity,” said Morgenstern. “This shows the importance of assembly and community.”
Large crowds also gathered for the Women’s March in Oakland and San Jose, numbering in the thousands. Over 100 marches and rallies were held in cities and towns across the U.S., with sister marches popping up around the globe again this year. While the Women’s March started in response to the shocking loss of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, it also launched a global movement of solidarity and protest reflecting women’s general dissatisfaction and fury over patriarchy and abuse of power. It was a match that sparked a feminist wildfire around the world.