The roughly 50 women from the Manatee and Sarasota area who rode all night on a chartered bus Friday to join Saturday morning’s Women’s March on Washington D.C. returned home exhausted and soaked about 3:40 p.m. Sunday but with a unified mission, one bus rider said.
The women made the trip not simply to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump as America’s 45th president but to advocate for anyone who could be marginalized in the next four years, said Pam Nolan, one of the local organizers.
“We went up to show our resolve to stand up for all people’s rights, but since they appear to be threatened by the new regime, we especially want to stand shoulder to shoulder with women, LGBT, disabled and immigrant communities, for the education and health care of future generations, for our planet,” Nolan texted 2 p.m. as the Rally bus made its way back to the DeSoto Square mall in Bradenton.
“The upwelling of goodwill and respect, kindness for all, even those showing support for dissenting opinions, in DC yesterday was truly awe-inspiring,” Nolan added. “Today we march. Tomorrow, we rest. But Monday we act.”
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When the bus finally pulled into the DeSoto Square Mall at 3:40 p.m. Sunday, people disembarked slowly, not in a rush. Most seemed happy the ride was over, but at the same time didn’t want it to end. Hugging was going on everywhere.
“It was fantastic,” Venice’s Pat Jablecki said of the march. “Do you know why it was fantastic? There was such a great energy there. Everyone felt so hopeful and so good. No incidences. Everything just came together.”
“It was the peacefulness of the whole group of people,” said Manatee’s Kathleen Welin. “Everyone was there to make a statement, saying that we are not happy that the popular vote was not the vote that was counted.”
The group from Manatee and Sarasota didn’t actually get to march, due to the size of the crowd, which was more than 500,000, Welin said.
“It was more like a mosh pit when we got there,” Welin said. “The march itself was full of bodies so there was nowhere to march.”
The local bus got to Washington Saturday morning just after the ceremonies had just begun, Welin said.
“We walked three miles to the stadium through beautiful downtown D.C., past all the beautiful houses,” Welin added. “When we got there the rally was in progress. Gloria Steinem was the first speaker. We heard Michael Moore who said, ‘This is how we do democracy. This is how we show democracy.’”
After climbing from the bus Sunday, one marcher said the experience was personal and she preferred not to try to describe it.
“We’re really burned out and wet,” the exhausted Nolan said, explaining that rain storms in South Carolina and Georgia found their way into the bus.
“The bus leaked like a sieve,” Nolan added.
The Women’s March on Washington started as a Facebook post in November by Teresa Shook, a retired woman from Hawaii.
All combined, Saturday’s demonstrations involved more than one million in Washington and in cities around the country and the world.