Pictured #1 The March for Women's Lives in Washington D.C. #2 Kathy Najimy .#3 Tammy Baldwin and #4 U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky #5 Ani DiFranco Photos by Meghan Streit and Materville Studios
Hundreds of thousands of pro-choice supporters descended on Washington, D.C., April 25 for the March for Women's Lives.
While no official count has been released, march organizers and police speculate that the numbers could be close to one million. Marchers traveled long distances by bus, car, train, and airplane from just about every state to be a part of this day that is certain to be remembered for many years.
The crowd that assembled on the National Mall on Sunday morning truly reflected the diversity of the movement—women of every color and ethnicity, far more men than you would expect, allies from the gay and lesbian community, and people from every generation all came together in support of women's right to choose and for reproductive health.
The march was literally star-studded, with celebrities turning up to show their support for abortion rights and to entertain the massive crowd gathered at the Mall. Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, Ashley Judd, Kathy Najimy and Cybill Shepard were among some of the most well-known to address the crowd. The March Celebrity Coalition also included Carly Simon, Christina Aguilera, Kirsten Dunst, Calista Flockhart, Salma Hayek, Ewan McGregor, Demi Moore, Charlize Theron, Uma Thurman, Kristen Davis, and many others. Lesbian comedian Kate Clinton hosted the morning portion of the program. Both Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls treated adoring fans to brief performances after the march. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and dozens of top pols, including lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin, also spoke to the crowd.
The march got underway around noon. The crowd inched off the Mall onto 14th Street, decked out in pro-choice and anti-Bush buttons, stickers, and t-shirts, and carrying signs with every imaginable slogan. Some of the most clever included 'Keep your rosaries out of my ovaries!' and 'The only Bush I trust is my own!' A group of lesbian supporters from Idaho held up a homemade sign reading: 'Idahomos for Choice!' Just when marchers may have started to grow weary from hours on their feet, they were met by anti-choicers lining Pennsylvania Avenue, brandishing huge photos of mutilated fetuses and shouting 'Baby Killer!' as marchers walked past. The opposition only served to energize the pro-choice contingent, who were quick to shout back, and due to sheer numbers, were often much louder.
As the afternoon program came to an end, marchers pitched in to pick up garbage on the lawn, and many collected left-over protest signs to bring home as souvenirs. Feminist leaders had repeatedly emphasized throughout the day that this march was not the end of the battle against the right-wing's attacks on choice, but merely the beginning. There was a powerful feeling of solidarity hanging in the air, as hundreds of thousands of people—a solid portion of them lesbian and gay—prepared to return to their hometowns. Even as the crowd slowly dwindled, it seemed likely that the energy and momentum that had been created in D.C. would not quickly dissolve.
Streit is on the board of Chicago NOW.
Many more photos at www.stewedtomatoes.com/WomensMarch2004/index.html