May Contain Blueberries

the sometimes journal of Jeremy Beker

This past sunday was quite eventful! The TA for the class Elizabeth and I are taking this semester, Jennifer, mentioned to me that she was the “bus captain” for the William & Mary chapter of VOX’s trip to the March for Woman’s Lives in Washington DC. It sounded like a fun and important event, so Elizabeth and I decided to go. Read on for more.

Sunday morning at 5:30am we rolled out of bed and got ready to go. We arrived at PBK hall on campus around 6:40 to find a small group already congregating (most nursing coffees). Jennifer showed up a few minutes later and conscripted Elizabeth and I to hand out maps of the National Mall area. People filtered in over the next 15 minutes and we were ready to go.

Given that the event organizers were expecting upwards of 750,000 people, the plan was to take the bus to RF Stadium outside of DC and then take the metro in to the Mall. As we got close to RFK, I started noticing busses converging from all directions. It took us over half an hour to get from the entrance to the stadium to the actual parking lot. People had bussed in from across the country (I saw busses from Chicago and New York.)

Leaving the bus, we joined the throngs of people (pictures will be linked at the end) moving towards the Metro station. We passed numerous “purveyors of capitalism” selling every imaginable kind of t-shirts, buttons, and food just in the half mile to the Metro station. Among the marchers, the signs and excitement had already begun.

After shuffling down into the Metro station and getting to the L’Enfant station, we all pilled out and made our way back above ground. By this point, Jennifer, Elizabeth, and I had lost all but two other of our group. We headed towards the mall passing trucks passing out signs, buttons, beach balls, and weird tubey things you are supposed to make noise with. It was a zoo.

Each group that had registered for the event had a designated spot on the Mall. Jennifer found one of the “purple people” (volunteers who knew stuff) and found that we were supposed to head towards sections B3, C3, B4, or C4 which is where the VOX delegations were placed. Instead of trying to wade through the crowds, we walked down one of the street parallel to the Mall towards our spot.

Upon arriving back at the Mall, we saw exactly how much of a zoo this actually was. I have never seen so many people in one place at one time. It was amazing. It was a sea of pink signs waving and cheering at the barely heard speakers on stage. We waded in to our position looking for anyone we recognized; yeh right.

The March itself was supposed to start at noon. It may have; Jennifer was warned that it might take a while before the movement at the beginning of the group would be noticed by those further back. We were near the front of the group, so we got started marching around 12:30. “Moving” translated to walk “three steps, stop, repeat” for about the first half hour. By the time we made it out onto the streets, we started moving, only clumping up when we needed to turn.

The march itself was a very interesting event. I had never done anything like this before, so I didn’t know what to expect. The closest thing I can compare it to is to imagine a high school pep rally (albeit one with hundreds of thousands of people). There were chants, people just making noise, and signs shaking (especially when helicopters went overhead).

There were small contingents of counter-protestors spread along the march route. I found out afterwards that they were organized into “themes” by blocks. There was the mutilated fetus picture section, the religious section, the “I had an abortion and now I regret it” section, the cute baby picture section, and probably some others. The pro-lifers were outnumbered easily 100 to 1. Some of them yelled at us, marchers yelled at them, it was all good fun. (Actually I was amazed to find out after the fact that only 16 people got arrested the whole march. A group of pro-lifers who didn’t have a permit.)

It took maybe 2 hours to get back to the mall after walking the 1 mile march route. I looked back at the march starting point and could see that there were large numbers of people who hadn’t even started walking yet. Amazing. We found a place to sit and rested for a while.

The plan was to get back to the bus by 4:30. We started towards the Metro at about 3:15 or so hoping to get a jump on the crowds. Ha! We went to one of the farther Metro stations and actually got on the Metro easily and even got seats. When the subway arrived at the Metro station closest to the march, the platforms were packed. The poor train conductor kept having to reassure people that there were more trains coming.

After much walking, we made it back to the bus and found that we had about two thirds of our people back. Everyone made it back to the bus by about 5:30 and we got out of the stadium lot by 6:00 or so. We stopped for dinner on the way back and made it back to campus by 10:00.

What a trip. I am thrilled that I went; it was the best $25 I have spent in a while. Thanks to everyone who came, it was fun. Now the links and pictures!