I went to photograph this event as a personal project because I have lived in the United States for over 57 years and have seen this country change, progressively, through large-scale social protests. Most people are aware of the numerous protests in this country, the most important and perhaps most famous, of which was led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1963 March on Washington to demonstrate for civil rights for Black Americans. Another was the Antiwar protest in 1969 about the American involvement in Vietnam. This Women’s March held the potential to be if not as big but equally important as a direct resistance to the campaign promises against, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQIA, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault, and women’s rights collectively, by the recently sworn in United States, President, Donald J. Trump.
Arriving in Washington, D.C. that morning, I did not know what to expect but I was prepared to capture what presented itself, in signage creativity and the raw behavior of its participants. The Nation’s capital is an immense expanse of extremely wide streets bound with massive imposing buildings that appear to lean upon the viewer. Imagine now, a constant stream of people all funneling in from nearly every direction, filling its core. The closer you enter, the crowd tightens, and your easy stride is gradually reduced to a square foot of movement, to none at all. Now, packed in, you hear spontaneous, loud choruses of protest callings: “Black Lives Matter!” “Pussy Grabs Back!”, “Not My President!” “Hey hey! Ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!” “Show me what democracy looks like!” / “This is what democracy looks like!” and, “My body, my choice!” / “Her body, her choice!”
Signs are bobbing overhead, like sailboats on choppy seas, for all you can see is faces inches away from yours. You strain to brush past the person in front of you as someone is doing the same, coming in your direction. Everyone is behaving themselves, polite, smiling, giddy even, exchanging as you pass, where are from? Connecticut, California, New Jersey, all over the country. Isn’t this amazing! Wow! I didn’t expect this many people.
It is in this hard crush of humanity, replete with the majority of the women wearing pink and dark pink knitted “pussy” hats, I raise my cameras to capture this rapturous madness. No one is arguing. No one is upset. I take their picture. No frowns. No resistance. They want their picture taken. The most current estimate, there were 400,000 people. I can see why I could not reach the stage area. I could not reach where the jumbotron montitors were positioned. I could not reach where the beginning of the march was to begin. It wasn’t a march, it was just an ocean of people enjoying themselves and ranting against what they most feared: the anxiety of a new president hell bent on destroying what so many past protests have engendered, progressive polices.
Burroughs Lamar is an independent documentary/photojournalist/freelance photographer based in New York City.