Photo Essays is a series on the Phoblographer where photographers get to candidly speak their mind about a specific subject or project of theirs. Want to submit? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every now and then an event occurs where disparate points of tension and interests in your life converge. Whether or not that event is something you want to celebrate or just hurry to forget is usually a matter of chance and circumstance. Luckily for me one such an event occurred in the best way possible with the Women’s March on Washington.
Being a very liberal black man raised in the south by a single feminist mother, I had a lot of personal intersections with the messages being celebrated. There was a time when I envisioned myself getting into politics. In fact, the election of Obama was the catalyst for me moving to the area and finishing my degree. I came to Washington with the hope of taking parts in movements just like this. Events that could have the potential to define a generation. As it usually goes, time and exposure to the real world of politics left me cynical and jaded. This past election threatened to take all sense of hopeful patriotism away from me. Then the people of this country restored my faith.
Even though the circumstances for the gathering where grim, the feeling of righteousness and unity emanating from the crowd was enough to give even the most hardened cynic hope.
The sheer size of the event was something that had to be seen to be believed. Masses of pink hatted men, women, and children lined the streets of D.C. Crowds of every ethnicity, race, gender, and religion were proudly marching in unison other shoulder to shoulder. The mass of people flowing so harmoniously began to resemble a living organism. Each unique sect supporting the other. I witnessed firsthand how the cleavages that would otherwise be used to divide the people could be transformed and repurposed into a unifying force for good.
But the real beauty of the moment wasn’t in the size, it was in the details. The hugs between strangers. Lovers being embraced and celebrated by their neighbors. The calls for justice for neglected segments of society, from voices seldom heard. A smile, a clever sign, a lingering glance of camaraderie. All these subtle acts of kindness and compassion created a sense of togetherness that reinvigorated my love for this country.
For all of the potential strife and turmoil that lay ahead, the Women’s March proved to me that the people of this society are the real agents of change. We are the past, present, and future of this nation. Our government, no matter how aloof or disconnected it may appear to be, is still of the people, by the people, and for the people. This was a call to arms for those who believe in human rights, compassion, justice, truth, and equality. It’s only the first step of many, but I couldn’t have imagine a better start.