It’s been more than five decades since Dobson resident Dorian Faye felt the need to participate in a political protest, but on Saturday she dusted off her marching shoes and hit the pavement.
Faye and her daughter, Sprigg Parker, were among those flooding the streets of the nation’s capital Saturday with the Women’s March on Washington.
“We’re concerned very much about making sure that the U.S. stays the place that offers hope to all people,” said Faye.
Sister marches also took place Saturday in hundreds of cities around the world on every continent.
The Associated Press reported that more than 500,000 people attended the flagship rally in Washington, D.C., and more than 1 million total participated in various cities nationwide.
The march was organized following the election of now-President Donald Trump to challenge an agenda some consider potentially threatening to human rights.
Faye cited her family, husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as motivation for attending.
“Combined we are all concerned about the kinds of attitudes and misstatements that this particular president is making to confuse people and treat them as though common decency and civility does not exist,” she said. “We support a multi-racial, multi-gender identity culture, we support everyone’s right to their own religion; and so far we see a lot of talk about how those kinds of conditions are not going to be allowed to exist.”
Parker and Faye were joined by friends from this area and also met some out-of-town friends at the march, which Faye said was attended by plenty of men.
She estimated men made up about 30 percent of the crowd.
Parker, of Winston-Salem, said her reasons for making the trip were similar to her mother’s.
“It felt like a chance to send a message nationally that we weren’t condoning (Trump’s) behavior and that we were not going to be as complacent as we have been in the past,” Parker said. “I want to send a message that polarity is not acceptable. We’re all still American and we’re going to be fighting for all Americans.”
Jody Crawford, of Mount Airy, rode to the march on a rally bus with about 40 others that included a small group of local residents.
They left Winston-Salem at 1:30 a.m. Saturday and arrived in the capital city at 8:30 a.m, returning later that night.
Crawford remarked that the sheer number of people made it challenging to do things like get a cup of coffee or getting a cell signals.
“The crowds were packed and it was impossible to get in sight of the stage although we could hear,” Crawford said. “It was interesting to look at all the people and their signs. It was really impressive to see the passion that these people brought to the cause.”
Crawford said the protesters chanted as they marched, some familiar from anti-war protests in the 1960s, some tailor made for the current situation, such as: “No Trump, no KKK, no racist U.S.A.”
Another example was a call and response: “What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like!”
For Crawford, the logistical challenges of the march were well worth the trip.
“From what was said on the presidential campaign trail, and from what I have heard from some of our congress, I believe that a lot of human rights that have been gained and diplomatic progress will be lost under our new regime,” she said. “I hope that my voice will be heard and help mitigate this damage. In other words, it’s a pre-emptive protest since not much new action has happened yet.”
Faye and Parker also brought home glowing reviews from the event.
“It was amazing,” said Faye.
“It was,” agreed Parker, describing the experience as “the best, nicest, friendliest.”
Faye explained that compared to anti-war protests during the Vietnam era (“I’m married to someone from the Air Force, and my grandson is an Air Force pilot,” she noted), the mood was much more positive.
“I saw a different level of marching in terms of people’s behavior,” she said. “There was no pushing, no shoving.”
Both noted how the crowd was diverse, with various races, religions, gender identities, ages and physical abilities.
“It was just America represented,” she said, tied together by a common spirit.
“We didn’t hear a cross word, even against Trump really,” Parker said, “not so much against the man, but more so against the closed-mindedness he seems to be effecting.”
The positive vibe extended beyond those who marched on Saturday, Parker said.
On their drive home through several states, the mother and daughter were met with support from strangers wherever they stopped.
The phrase “solidarity march” was a more apt description than protest, Parker said.
“We’re ready for sticking together,” and, “not letting things get rolling in the wrong direction.”
Crawford shared similar sentiments.
“People on the bus and in the march were incredibly kind and sharing,” she said. “I did not see any violence or anger among this group. Even though it was so crowded and people were surely tired, everyone was patient and helpful to those around them.”
Sea of pink
One project was a movement launched last fall with the goal of creating a sea of pink hats worn by those at the march and to give those who couldn’t attend the Washington, D.C., march a way to participate.
At the event, Parker wore one she had knitted herself.
“To have the visible, outward symbol of your collective intent was pretty amazing,” she said. “To see all the pink hats, it’s a pretty clear statement.”
The mother and daughter also enjoyed all the different signs and placards.
Faye was struck by one that read, “This is so important that even introverts are marching,” she said.
Parker said she was the most taken with some held by women in their 60s or 70s that read: “Why the (F-word) are we still fighting?” and “Why are we still protesting this (S-word)?” as an indication of how long those particular women have been fighting for women’s rights.
Faye wore a baseball hat with a lighthouse representing a small town in Maine where a few of her friends staged a tiny protest of their own.
“These small solidarity actions are not covered by the press. It’s important,” she said.
Mount Airy resident Jessica Johnson Stone staged a solidarity action locally.
On Saturday, she was among a group of eight who marched along the greenway carrying signs.
“It was very sweet and meaningful to us,” she said, and meaningful to others as well.
Stone noted that those driving by and using the greenway stopped the group to thank and show their support and that her mother, wearing a hat knitted through the pink hat project, was stopped and hugged so frequently on her way to the local march she arrived late.
One marcher carried a sign that simply had a drawing of a heart, followed by the mathematical symbol for “greater than” and a dollar sign.
“Everyone marched for their own reasons but joining together,” Stone said.
Lara Nester, of Mount Airy, drove a group to a sister march held in Raleigh.
On Friday, the day President Trump was sworn-in, she penned an essay titled “Why I am Devastated Today and Marching Tomorrow…”
In it she states that as a Mexican woman and daughter of a combat veteran, she is offended by Trump’s rhetoric.
“I am a woman and I believe in America, and I will fight to make it live up to its vision as a nation with liberty and justice for all,” the essay concludes.
“The big issue for everyone now is how to keep the momentum going,” Faye said.
Stone also hopes the march becomes a movement.
“If we’re dissatisfied by what’s going on nationally we can focus here at home and make changes,” she said, noting that a newly established group called Citizens Unite for Love and Community may help facilitate that involvement.
What started as a small Facebook group to foster conversations regarding race relations has blossomed into a group of more than 500 local members.
“We really want to inspire people to vote in local elections,” Stone said.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.