Voices from the Women's March: a Disability Perspective
This is the first of a two part piece about the Women’s March on Washington, which was anticipated to be the largest gathering of disabled people in American history. It features a series of portraits and interviews of marchers with disabilities. We started in the ADA seating area and eventually made our way to the ADA tent, speaking to a range of people we encountered along the way. We asked questions about why people had decided to attend, who or what they marched for, and their concerns about the current administration. Some marchers also discussed concerns about the accessibility of the Women’s March itself. The second half of the series will focus on the Disability Caucus and discuss some of its struggles to make the March accessible and inclusive.
Sharen and Ulrike
Sharen: We're from northern Virginia. We decided to come to the march three days ago, but we'd been thinking about it for a while.
Ulrike: I’m a pro-lifer, and I’m a feminist. I believe the ultimate goal of feminism is to make abortion unnecessary. My activism work is all about creating support for families so that every child that comes into the world can be supported and loved. I have six kids including one from foster care; I’m not one of those pro-lifers who people say don’t care about life after birth.
Sharen: I’m here with my friend because this is a historic effort. In the blackest times of American history, it’s important to show that we’re here together, that people of all abilities think this is important.
Lainie Morales and her husband Rico
Lainie: I have a lot of Christian friends who don’t like what I’m doing. We live in DC. I have four children, all grown. Two are girls. I wanted to be here for their future. I have friends and family who are people of color, women, and people with disabilities. We’re all at risk with this administration. I wanted to come out here and make my voice be heard and say, "We will not take this. We will not back down. We will not be taken back to the '50s. We the people are more powerful than a single egomaniac predator."
I was at the protest yesterday when they set the limousine on fire. I had a bunch of Trump supporters tell me “Don’t worry, no one wants to grab your pussy, bitch.” They were elbowing people in the stomach, trying to incite them to violence. We remain calm because love trumps hate. We tolerate them, but they don’t tolerate us.
We are strong enough to rise up. We don’t accept your homophobia, racism, or ableism. We have to stand together.
I'm fifteen. I finally got permission from my parents a few weeks ago to come to the march. I came with my grandmother. I knew I had to come because I’m not going to live in a world where me and my friends and the people I love are kept down and stepped on. When it comes to this administration, a better question to ask would be "What am I not worried about?"
Anna Marie: I traveled here from New Jersey. I’ve been working for and with Hillary since 2005, and I came here for her. I’m feeling frustrated though. The speeches are too long; they’re trying to fit everything in and trying too hard to appease different people. What we came for, it’s to march, to make our voices heard. When are we going to get to do that?
I think this march should have happened before the election. Where were all these women then?
Sarah and Vanessa
Vanessa: I live here in DC, and I think this is a really important moment in history. I came to show solidarity, and I’ve seen a lot of local activists and people from the community here today. My concern right now is the logistics of the march. It was already tough to get through the crowd to the ADA seating area, and I don’t know how we’re going to participate in the march.
Sarah: Vanessa and I are friends; we met up beforehand and came over together. I’m here because I'm worried about the foundations of democracy and about freedom of the press.
Virgil and Mary Rowley
Mary: We’re from Indianapolis. We decided to come before the election even happened. We decided back in 2012 because we knew it was going to be a woman president. I’m marching for all of us: all the women and children, people in the criminal justice system, and children who won’t get education because of Trump. I’m marching for the elderly, for the LGBT community, and for everyone who can’t be here today. I’m marching for Ida B. Wells and Harriet Tubman.
Kim and Cathy
Kim: I didn’t know I was coming to the March until a week ago. I came with a friend whose husband couldn’t make it at the last minute, so I got to take his place and travel with all expenses paid, which was great because I wouldn’t have been able to afford to come otherwise. I’m not marching for a particular person; I’m here for an idea. I’m a woman of color, I’m disabled; I fit in a lot of categories that need to be represented. The ADA tent is great, but finding it was really difficult. I couldn’t get through for a while and I couldn’t get to ADA seating because they said it was gridlocked. Cathy and I just met here in the ADA tent after we both got separated from our friends.
Cathy: The same thing happened with me; I came with a friend from Montana after a different friend had to cancel. I found out about the march through a friend. I thought, “I really want to go, but I can’t walk.” I realized if I could get a wheelchair I would be able to come. So here I am. I’m marching for my sisters, my daughter in law, and my two little granddaughters.
Soph Bonde is President and Publisher at Argot. She is a professional photographer in Washington DC and awkward about it. She has been described as an 'administrative machine.'