Hundreds of Islanders left Martha’s Vineyard on Friday and Saturday, crowding standby lines, jamming the ferries, and disembarking in Woods Hole to travel onward, to Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, and Falmouth. On Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump’s Inauguration, they became part of a group of more than 3.5 million women and men who marched on the nation’s capital and in sister marches around the country and the world. The march would become the largest protest in United States history. Many Islanders stayed home, marching at Five Corners.
The march was organized by Teresa Shook of Hawaii the day after the election: She created a Facebook event and invited 40 friends to march on Washington.
People reported marching for varying reasons — reproductive rights, for the Black Lives Matter movement, for immigration rights, to fight climate change and the gender pay gap, and for LGBTQ rights. And though many protesters highlighted Trump’s illegitimacy as president, the march reflected the idea that women’s rights are human rights.
It was an uncharacteristically warm day on Saturday when nearly 500,000 people descended upon the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March on Washington. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, commonly known as the Metro, experienced one of the busiest days in its history, with more than a million rides taken the day after the Inauguration.
Police presence in many areas was light; protesters showed consideration to one another, and the march remained peaceful, with zero incidents reported by the police.
Trish Moreis-Stiles is originally from Oak Bluffs, and lives in D.C. She marched with her 16-year-old daughter and called it a “life-changing moment.”
“People weren’t there to just march, they were there to make a statement,” she told The Times.
Men marched alongside women, chanting “Her body, her choice!” Pink “pussy hats” could be spotted in every direction, and people held signs that expressed both comedy and tragedy — “Really, 2017?” “There will be hell toupée,” and “You’re out of your element, Donny.” Shannon Dickey, from New Haven, Conn., held a sign that said, “Tweeting is not leading.”
The march eventually made its way to the White House. There were people of all ages — from babies being pushed in strollers or held in carriers to people in wheelchairs or using canes. Martha Brooke, a seasoned protester who participated in marches that protested the Vietnam War, the Cambodian Civil War, and the Iraq War, told The Times, “I’ve seen a lot of marches, and this is the best one yet.”
New York City
It’s estimated that over 400,000 people marched in New York City on Saturday. Chris Silva, art director at The Times, attended the march, and said there was plenty of sunshine and that the mood was both upbeat and positive.
“There were many spontaneous chants with accompanying drumbeats that would swell through the thousands of marchers — it was very powerful,” he said.
Mr. Silva said there was a strong police presence, but he witnessed no altercations. He was located near 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, as the march headed up 5th Avenue toward Trump Tower. Onlookers, he said, were “emboldened by the energy and chutzpah of the marchers.”
As the marchers made their way through the city, Mr. Silva photographed people holding signs with messages such as, “I can’t believe I still have to protest this,” “My body, My right, My choice,” and “Make America sane again.”
“I kept wondering where all these people were going to end up once they got close to Trump Tower,” he said. “I never found out, since the street became impassable at around 46th [Street].”
The Women’s March in Boston brought more than 175,000 people around Boston Common and Beacon Hill on Saturday. Lenore Tsikitas told The Times there was a steady volume of people — men and women of all ages — and she was inspired by how many families and generations of people felt compelled to march. Ms. Tsikitas, who grew up on the Vineyard, is a long-time advocate for reproductive health and spent many summers working for Family Planning of Martha’s Vineyard.
“The Women’s March was a powerful, visceral reminder of all of the ideals, beliefs, needs, dreams, and rights that unite us,” Ms. Tsikitas said. “And the growing amount of communities and movements learning to work in solidarity with one another to achieve them.”
Mayor Marty Walsh, along with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, spoke at the march. They said that Massachusetts would not roll back historic civil rights and recent achievements like health care reform and marriage equality.
Times contributor Siobhan Beasley marched with Ms. Tsikitas and said that as they walked through the cobblestoned streets of Beacon Hill, she was reminded of Paul Revere and the American Revolution.
“I felt the revolutionary spirit of my city,” she told The Times.
“The signs people carried were glorious,” Ms. Beasley said. “Many of the signs conveyed messages of tolerance, love, respect for all. I saw tiny children with handwritten signs reading “Be Nice” and “It’s okay to be different,” and a man holding one reading, “I’m not really a sign guy, but YIKES.” Many women held signs that read, “Girls just want to have Fun-damental human rights.”
At one point in the march, Ms. Beasley turned to Ms. Tsikitas and said, “I finally feel hopeful.” A woman they didn’t know turned to her and said, “Me, too.”
MV Times contributor Tony Omer reported that in Falmouth there were between 1,000 and 1,500 women, men, and children who marched in a circle around the town green.
Philip B. Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center, spoke at the event. He said that the science of climate change was real, and without leadership in Washington, the need for people to act locally to reduce greenhouse gases was greater than ever.
The final speaker in Falmouth was Congressman William Keating, who said he supported his community. Congressman Keating said that if the rights of one group are taken away, then the rights of any group could be taken away.
At Five Corners, more than a hundred people gathered to honor these sister marches and take a stand for women’s rights. There were women, men, children, members of the LGBT and the Brazilian communities in attendance. When asked why they came out to demonstrate, people gave varied answers, but the most common was they couldn’t travel to Washington or Boston and felt they needed to mobilize to support women’s rights.
Organizer Susan Desmarais told The Times she hoped this would be an opportunity for young people and those who couldn’t get off-Island to voice their opinions. “My hope is that, for those of us whose voices were not heard in this election, this will be an empowering and inspiring way that we can prevent going backward,” she said.
“The comments Trump has made about women and immigrants are awful,” said Moira Silva, who came out with her son and mother-in-law. “His agenda is not my agenda, and he does not represent what America is about.”
Many of the event’s participants were young girls, who made their own signs and happily waved to honking cars, with family members by their sides. For most of the girls, and some of the adults, it was their first public demonstration. Many said that although they haven’t historically attended public demonstrations, they felt called to action.
“This is the first time my daughters’ future is threatened,” said Chris Valley. “One is autistic, and [Trump’s] mocking of disabled people was a disgrace. He has no respect for the disabled community.”
For some, coming out to Five Corners was an act of positivity rather than negativity. “I’m trying to show my solidarity, not my opposition,” said Arielle Hayes of Hayes Design and We Stand Together. “We care here on Martha’s Vineyard, even if we can’t be elsewhere. We are letting people know that we are here.”
Ms. Hayes has been making T shirts and signs to distribute to marches around the country that say “Peace, Love, Solidarity, and Action.” “He-who-must-not-be-named is already taking things that people need away from them. Peace, love, and solidarity are great, but we have to be active,” said Hayes.
“I’m not marching against anything, but for things,” said Kim Fuson. “I don’t hate anyone. But Trump is a buffoon.”
Ms. Fuson came to Five Corners to rally for reproductive rights and the LGBT community. She and her wife Barbara Seidman will be celebrating their third wedding anniversary in March, though they have been together for 39 years, and are frightened by the things that President Trump and Vice President Pence have said. As a former Indiana resident, Ms. Fuson has heard stories that upset her from friends and family who still live there, about living in Indiana under former Governor Pence.
“They’ve dismantled Planned Parenthood in Terre Haute,” said Ms. Fuson. “I’m 63 years old; I shouldn’t have to march for reproductive rights. We should be moving forward, not backward.”
The demonstrators also expressed concern about the presidential administration’s stance on immigration. Meiroka Nunes immigrated to Martha’s Vineyard from Brazil 13 years ago, and is worried about what life will be like in America for new immigrants. Ms. Nunes enthusiastically waved to passing cars and chatted with friends, while draped in an American flag. She said she is proud to be an American and that she can raise her three sons here.
“I want my people living here to be free,” she said. “I came here from Brazil because of the violence and difficulty finding work, and I want my people to be able to do the same. I am so proud that I live here.”