“Diversity + Solidarity = Strength” were the words Jone Lewis, the leader of the Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture, wrote on a sign she made for the Women’s March on Washington.
The group she leads hosted a gathering at its Riverdale office on Jan. 19, the eve of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, inviting members of the community to create signs for the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21 and its sister march in New York.
Lewis, who counts women’s rights and climate change among the issues that matter most to her, said “they are all up in the air right now,” following Trump’s election. People have to continue speaking out, she said.
Lewis did not make it to the 1963 March on Washington, which took place when she was 12. A friend of her mother’s offered to take her, but the mother refused, citing safety concerns, Lewis said.
“I didn’t get to go… So, this is a bookend to another march that is for human rights and for human justice,” she said. “I think there’s a real resurgence, I wouldn’t call it optimism… a real sense of dedication in that we will be heard. That our voices are not going to be silent and the values that we hold are ones that are important American values.”
For Kelly McLane, making signs and attending a march in New York was a way of setting an example for her son Malcolm. McLane is white and Malcolm’s father is African-American. Her sign read: “Black Lives Matter, White Silence = Violence.”
“For me, it has been the most, in my opinion, the most pressing issue of my time,” McLane said. “I want to him to know that white people care and that white people will actually take a stand against hatred and violence and that we will not say it one time or do one token action.”
For David Kornbluh, who was also making signs, the marches were a way “to make sure in the years to come that the new administration is going to adhere to these values.”
“These are the things that we fought for, for the last generation and we don’t want to lose those: a woman to choose, the rights of immigrants to stay and make a life for themselves in this country and life of the planet in the face of global warming,” he said.
Bill Lewis, Jone Lewis’ husband, the march was also a connection to another one decades ago.
“I’m marching this time to finish what we started in 1968 [in Chicago],” he said. The signs he made read: “My Body, My Choice. Her Body, Her Choice!” “Restore Voting Rights” and “ERA Now.”
About half a million people attended the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, and another 400,000 people took to the streets in New York, according to New York Times estimates.
“I don’t see it as a march for women. I see it that women are the ones who make change. For me, I’m not going just for women to say that you can’t disrespect women but also that we as women are the ones with the heart, and the strength and the determination to make changes,” said McLane.