WASHINGTON – Three years after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the 2020 Women’s March in Washington mobilized thousands of protestors again on Saturday to demand reproductive rights, immigrants’ rights and action on climate change.
But this year, there were no celebrity speakers or performers. The performers were the protesters themselves, led by Chilean collective action group Las Tesis. Their protest performance song, “Un Violador en tu Camino” (“A Rapist in your Path”), went viral around the world, and has been re-created in various cities.
The protesters wrapped around the White House to perform the song in both English and Spanish, after learning the words and rehearsing the movements in a nearby park, where freezing rain and snow didn’t deter them.
As posters calling for Trump’s impeachment and removal from office hovered above the crowd, the lyrics of the song accuse the president of sexual assault.
The performance showed unity in song, movement and mission, as the new board of directors of the national Women’s March sought to bring a diversity of voices to the event, according to the organization’s website.
Hope Butler, a member of the board of directors of Indigenous Vision, and a citizen of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe of Maryland, opened the march with a song in acknowledgement of the land, and a song to remember the missing, murdered indigenous women.
Despite numerous pro-life counterprotests surrounding the march, T. Sheri Dickerson, reverend and board member of the national Women’s March, said, “We won’t engage the hecklers because we know they are on the wrong side of history.”
A range of organizations, from Planned Parenthood to National Nurses United, had a strong presence at the march.
Arndrea Waters King, human rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King III, gave the keynote address.
“Each one of us must heal ourselves and the planet” to save the country from hate, racism, sexism and climate change,” King told the crowd on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.
King’s 11-year-old daughter, Yolanda King, also addressed the crowd after her mother.
“We can change the world,” she said, as snowflakes started to fall on the huddled crowd. The leaders marched at the front, chanting in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, reproductive rights and democracy.
Attendees also celebrated the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in 1920.
As the last Women’s March before the 2020 presidential election, the speakers and many of the posters encouraged protesters and allies to vote for a candidate who would stand up for women’s and immigrants’ rights, so that next year an “immigrant mother’s child is sitting next to her in a crib, not a cage,” Arndrea Waters King said.
Emily Hayes is a graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.