Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

When liberty is threatened, this country marches

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
The march was our launch; now we pilot the ship.

When need presses upon it, this country marches. From Washington’s March across the Delaware to the Woman’s Suffrage Procession of 1913, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 Birmingham Campaign, so many Vietnam War protests, the Million Man March, and more, always more. When our liberty is threatened, we do not lie down to sleep.

Mary Chasin

On Jan. 21, my friend Lynn and I arrived on the periphery of the Women’s March on Washington and began to work our way toward the march route, Independence Avenue. We couldn’t see it through the crowd but we knew what direction to take, and we moved, with unerring purpose, through a slow but powerful river of hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children.

Never back, always forward

It wasn’t easy. When we couldn’t penetrate the solid banks of the river, we detoured around them to find narrow passages; we went sideways, climbed walls with the help of other marchers, but always with our goal of getting to Independence. Never back, always forward. We were one of many, many tributaries flowing into this human river, from every direction, arriving on airplanes, buses, trains, Metro, and cab. Heading for Independence.

The irony was not lost on me as I saw our massive force moving inexorably forward, as so many millions before us in our nation’s 241-year history had to forge the way to independence. That history is not going to end in 2017. We will not allow it.

The crowd was ecstatic, the chants were exhilarating — “We are the popular vote” was my favorite — the signs were inspiring, affirming, often amusing. Lynn and I were far from the speakers, but when we could hear them for a few moments at a time, we heard energy, stout-heartedness, love for each other and our country. We heard America.

Joy and unity

Finally, we trickled into the heart of the river of marchers on Independence. And shortly we heard thunder. We turned and saw a women’s drum corps approaching, setting a beat of purest joy and unity. As they passed, my heart was near to bursting. And I knew we will be victorious in this good and peaceful fight, one of so many our country has waged in pursuit of independence and equality and in resistance to the forces of tyranny and hate.

We know there is much to be done. The march was our launch; now we pilot the ship. Now we begin the work.

Mary Chasin is from Crystal.

Want to add your voice?

If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at salbright@minnpost.com.)

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by joe smith on 02/02/2017 - 08:32 am.

    March away..

    Just don’t destroy a campus (USC Berkley) because you are afraid of what speaker has to say, we as tax payers will have to pay for the clean up. Please don’t block freeways, folks have jobs to get to, doctors to see, families that need them and basically things they need to get done without you blocking the public freeways. When you are marching please don’t break store windows (someone actually built that business and will have to pay to fix it). Don’t turn over cars or chant “pigs in a blanket, fry em like bacon”, not really things that draw folks to your cause….. Just a little common decency and march away…

  2. Submitted by Stephanie Small on 02/02/2017 - 12:49 pm.

    Thanks for the march parameters

    Thank you, Joe, for the parameters on civil marches.

    Thank you for lumping this group of peaceful, law-abiding citizens with other groups that might need to mature and learn to control anger issues while marching.

    I will make a note of all the things you’ve asked and be sure to share with others whose rights are threatened when they are compelled to march.

    Diversity is the foundation to future success for the United States of America. The current generation is always afraid of the new immigrants. This has been true for the last 200 years. With a smaller population of younger citizens and a large bubble of seniors demanding medical resources, we need everyone that is interested in succeeding in our country to contribute in our economy.

    • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 02/02/2017 - 07:59 pm.

      Thank you, Stephanie

      and I mean that. One small word I’d like you to change. As one of that large bubble of seniors, please know that we are not DEMANDING medical resources; we need them more than you may at the moment.
      We have also paid into Medicare and Social Security all the years we worked, so at least some of the cost is not a burden on you temporarily younger people! In fact, what you’re contributing now will be there (if trump & his ilk don’t succeed in destroying it) when you and your agemates need it.
      We are also politically savvy and active. We are with you and have lifetimes worth of memory and knowledge to work with. We have seen it all before, (although those of us who are white, not poor, not immigrants, not abused, have not seen it as bad as this.)
      I agree with Mary Chaskin. Our history doesn’t end here. We’ll go marching, working, thinking, talking, making history and culture, babies and other good things.
      Bless you and bless us all.

  3. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 02/02/2017 - 04:52 pm.

    Excuses

    There are plenty of excuses not to march, such as possibly being connected with others who might be perceived as “too extreme.” In my experience, people who do decide to march are respectful of private property and law enforcement and others’ rights to speak and be heard- really to a fault. People march because they feel it they who feel they are not being heard.

    The right of free speech and peaceable assembly does not extend to lawbreaking or disorderly conduct. Those who sometimes do break the law in peaceful protest will also invite arrest to make a larger point about the injustices in our society and the loss of civil liberties. Peaceful protesters at Standing Rock have been arrested, pepper sprayed and firehosed for simply getting in the way of oil pipeline construction the public need for which is doubtful at best. It really represents the privatization of public goods by the rich who can summon the raw force of the state to guarantee their profits. There are plenty of excuses not to march, but they all boil down to one: “don’t rock the boat.”

  4. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 02/02/2017 - 07:09 pm.

    Protesting what?

    I’m still curious. What were the rights, freedoms, wrongs, etc. that need to be corrected? Most importantly, was there any chance that that the audience (whoever that was) would change or respond as a result of the march? Or a thousands more like it. If people were “protesting” President Trump, was the goal to get him to resign? Was there really a chance of that? Please do tell.

    • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 02/02/2017 - 08:26 pm.

      So glad you’re curious!

      We don’t know the future, we are realists and pragmatists as well as dreamers and idealists, and we each speak for ourselves. So though I want trump and all his mean-spirited and ignorant ilk out of power, I’m doing what I can not for a small result like his resignation (we would then need to work against pence and the right-wing haters in Congress and elsewhere).
      What we are doing, in the streets, in our living rooms and workplaces, is protesting the right wing’s desire to do away with Roe v Wade, the rest of the Voting Rights Act, our country’s welcoming stance toward refugees and immigrants, the Affordable Care Act, the respect of other nations that President Obama won back through years of diplomacy after other presidents had lost it for the U.S., respect for and support of public education, science and the arts, care for the environment, the EPA, support for civil rights, work toward non-murderous policing, Title IX, …………
      These are only a few of the issues donald trump endangers, and has started to do away with.
      Most of us know we can’t change your minds. That’s not what we’re marching and working for, but to literally demonstrate our resistance to the right-wing agenda, and to hearten each other in the work.

  5. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/02/2017 - 08:30 pm.

    Future

    This march was protesting the future, something that may (or may not) happen, which is very unique… On the other hand, I am curious, which of our liberties are specifically threatened and how?

  6. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 02/03/2017 - 09:43 am.

    The course of the future

    One of the effects of an authoritarian leader, like Trump, and a political party, the Republican, which elevates authoritarianism to a virtue, is that it silences-chills- dissent and free expression of ideas by people who self-censor out of fear. Marches are not just to protest but to build solidarity and reduce that fear by reminding us as individuals that we are not just atoms but have great strength in numbers and unity. It might be more accurate to say that in a country which is still free at the moment, a protest march also checks to see how free the country still is. It’s not too clear it’s going to remain free very long with the politicians in power apparently having their minds and hearts set on a predetermined authoritarian agenda and course. I think these public displays of solidarity may also remind politicians who might not be so determined or have their minds made up that there are others whose views are important. As long as the country remains a free country, those elected to political office, unlike their supporters, will have to pay some attention to events outside of their own little Fox News alternative reality bubbles.

Leave a Reply