In the hours before the Womxn’s March was to begin Saturday morning, January 21, it began to look like early attendance estimates had been low. Lines for buses snaked around street corners, Uber and Lyft prices surged to upwards of $70, the light rail was packed to capacity, and sidewalks and streets through Seattle’s Chinatown International District were clogged like congested arteries with people trying to make their way to Judkins Park.
Planned as a march in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington the day after the inauguration, Seattle’s event was projected to be the third largest in the nation, with perhaps 50,000 people marching three-and-a-half miles from Judkins Park to the Seattle Center.
But as the six-acre park filled to overflowing well before the 11:00 a.m. start time, it became clear that the march would exceed anyone’s wildest expectations.
Throughout the day, while marchers slowly filtered through the city like a pink-toned river, participants shared news from their phones; the estimate was now 100,000, now 130,000. Each update was met with joyful cheers. In the days following the event, estimates now suggest that 175,000 to 200,000 people joined the Seattle Womxn’s March. The unexpected turnout buoyed hopes for marchers and sympathizers that civic activism could be a strong force against the policies that many marchers fear may erode civil liberties in the new administration.
The term “Womxn” was adopted by the Seattle march to show solidarity with the transgender community and provide an intersectional event.
Situated in the historic and racially diverse Central District and up the block from the Northwest African American Museum, the choice of Judkins Park seemed strategic to combat Seattle’s notoriously white demographics.
Women, men, people of all gender identities, sexualities, races, and religions met in Judkins Park on Saturday. However, many noticed that the crowd was predominantly white despite its location in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the nation.
Nadia Kako, who is a half-white, half-Indian and Middle Eastern and a student at the University of Washington, remarked that she didn’t see many people of color. It was a predominantly white march, Kako said.
This sentiment was echoed by Tammy Jackson-Cloy, an African-American substitute teacher in the Kent School District.
“I haven’t even seen very many black people,” Jackson-Cloy said. “I see mostly white.”
This was no deterrent for Jackson-Cloy. Instead, it was a beacon of hope.
“I cried when I came up here … seeing all of the white people carrying these Black Lives Matter signs,” Jackson-Cloy said.
It is important that the people preaching equality are making direct statements about being inclusive about it, Kako said.
Not typically one for marching, Jackson-Cloy was convinced to join the Womxn’s March by her fellow teachers, a group of people who are resolutely not with Donald Trump, she said.
For Jackson-Cloy, the march was emotional.
“There’s nothing but love and energy and unity,” she said, “that’s what’s out here.”
A feeling of hope hung in the air around the crowded Judkins Park.
The sea of poster board signs and pink-knit “pussy hats”—the pink, cat ear hats—was empowering to many including Annika Shore. The pussy hats were a direct response to Trump who, in a taped conversation in 2005, bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.”
Shore, a capacity building specialist for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands, said that she was at the march as a private citizen. She was excited about seeing all the different causes coming together to show support for people who couldn’t be there.
“I think that bad things are going to happen but I think a lot of positive and empowering things are going to happen as well,” Shore said.
As protesters waited to exit Judkins Park and started on the march route two bald eagles flew overhead. The sun broke through the clouds on what was predicted to be a dreary, rainy day earlier in the week.
“Hope is not lost today,” a passerby remarked.
Delays exiting the park were attributed to having too many people, the best problem the march could possibly have, according to organizers. There was barely room to walk the streets were so crowded with people. It took as many as two hours to walk the whole route.
There were reports that the bald eagles were following the front of the march that had made its way to the Seattle Center. Cheers erupted throughout the crowd.
Sasha Su-Ling Welland, an associate professor at the University of Washington in gender, women and sexuality studies, described the march as heartening.
In many ways, there has been a certain level of apathy in the public sphere, but the numbers at the march today are reminiscent of the Civil Rights Era, Welland said.
Once the march reached the Space Needle there were reportedly three miles of people stretching from Judkins Park to the Seattle Center according to the Seattle Police Department.
“There’s so many demonstrations that matter and I think this one is really powerful because it’s such a national and international movement of people standing up for the types of politics and values that are important to them that were not reflected in any way in the past presidential election,” Welland said.
This type of demonstration is integral for effecting change, Welland said. There’s a collectivity in numbers and there will be a lot more action in the coming years.
Nadia Herrarte, 30, moved to the United States from Guatemala 10 years ago. She was marching with her mother, the two of them brandishing a Guatemalan flag between them.
“We stand for humanity regardless of race, color, nationality, sexual desires, anything,” Nadia Herrarte, the Guatemala-native said. “We are resisting today because we are all humans.”
When the march approached the Seattle Center, the crowd began to sing. Lyrics of “This Land is Your Land” echoed softly against the buildings of Downtown Seattle.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Herrarte said. “I don’t know if we’re going to get anything from this but I just feel like it’s a need for myself and to support other people as well.”