In the early hours of Friday morning as Donald Trump’s supporters were lining up to watch their candidate take the oath of office, a bus was leaving Kansas City. The seats were filled with women who were happily riding more than 24 hours to make it to the Women’s March on Washington.
Historian Olivia Warford-Grow got off one of more than a thousand buses at RFK Stadium under misty skies on Saturday.
“I worry the federal government will take away the IDEA Act and make my daughter’s education cripplingly expensive because she is profoundly dyslexic,” Warford-Grow told Raw Story via email. “Our family has had to pay for three years of private school just so she can go back to public school, but she still needs accommodation per the IDEA Act. We live in Kansas where the Brownback administration would happily defund special education.”
After watching Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, testify before the Senate this week, Warford-Grow said, “It scares me to my core.”
For Susan McCool of Abilene, Texas, Election Day was a breaking point. The “almost 60”-year-old is one of very few Democrats in what she calls the “armpit of Texas.” She told Raw Story by phone that her county was one of the top areas of the country that supported Trump.
Until this weekend, the most “activist” thing McCool had ever done was wear something special to a PTA meeting in protest of book bans — and once she proudly proclaimed at a Bunko meet-up that she was still a Democrat.
Raising two boys as a single mother left her little time and energy for activism, she said. Now, as a grandmother of an 11-year-old girl, she believes that speaking out is essential.
“I’ll be damned if my granddaughter has to go through any of that,” McCool said recalling what life was like when teachers couldn’t work if they were pregnant and women couldn’t serve in the church.
“I used Planned Parenthood then,” she said about the years she spent as a single mom. She had a hysterectomy but still wanted to make sure she was getting her annual exams. “I didn’t have the money nor could I take off, and they were open on Saturdays. So, if you did that, it was based on your income and I had a decent income, but I had two kids. So, I would volunteer back and work in there to pay for my annual exams.”
She went on to explain that she wishes people understood that there is more to Planned Parenthood than abortions.
McCool isn’t “some Bible thumper” but she is Catholic. She’s vacillated between her support for both Republicans and Democrats over the years.
When she participated in events last week in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, McCool said she watched the people of color in her town bow their heads in prayer for an incoming president that they don’t support. She found herself shocked by their forgiveness.
“Especially, the way they’re kicked around, and arrested, and abused, and looked down on,” she said of those in her community. “They’re still optimistic. They’re still praying for him? Really?”
She confessed that she’s not to a place yet where she can perform such an “awesome” act of forgiveness.
“I haven’t found it in my heart … I haven’t been able to pray for Trump yet,” she said. “I don’t think I can…. I don’t have it in me.”
Leslie Libey of Spokane, Washington took the election hard. She told Raw Story over the phone that she was both blindsided and devastated. The tipping point for her was her fear surrounding the Supreme Court and what she called oppressive laws that could be decided as a result of a conservative court.
Libey said that she has never been politically active, but after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, she woke up.
She said he worries about raising her boys in a culture that not only accepts violence against others but now, she believes, promotes it.
“We can tell our kids all day long that bullying isn’t OK,” she said, “but they’re seeing all around them that it’s acceptable behavior.”
Libey said that she’s been lucky enough to live a life with advantages that mean “the direct impact on me” of Trump’s policies “is likely minimal.”
Nonetheless, she fears deeply for America’s immigrants, Muslims, all people of color and the LGBT community.
“What a lot of people are waking up to right now is something that marginalized groups have been dealing with for decades,” Libey said. “But I think it’s very clear to the American public now what kind of country they live in. We don’t live in this post-racial society that we thought we did. I think more people, white people in particular, are realizing that struggle.”
Libey worries about what will happen if she “has an unwanted pregnancy and Roe v. Wade is overturned.” While her family is financially stable and she and her spouse have good jobs and health care, a third child is an undertaking.
It isn’t just reproductive freedom that concerns her, however, it’s the treatment of women in general that has gone beyond the election into the White House.
“I feel like we’re not just being told that we’re not valued,” she said.
You can watch a full video of other first time marchers below: