2017 was a year of great change in the United States and around the world. Last year’s Women’s Marches happened around the world, mobilizing millions of marchers from diverse backgrounds and agendas with one purpose–making equality in action, as well as words. One man said, “Women may march all they want as long as they’re home in time to cook dinner.” I suspect his dinner had a little something extra that evening. Many like him thought last year’s march would be one and done. They could not have been more wrong.
Organizers for the 2018 Women’s March began early. Nationally, the decision was made to move the March around to different locations, and in New Jersey, that decision was made as well. Last year the Marches happened in the Nation’s Capital and here in Trenton. This year’s New Jersey March was held in one of the cradles of freedom, Morristown in Morris County. Washington’s troops wintered in Morristown and revolution has been part of the scenery now for about 300 years.
There were two stages this year–the Rally began at Morristown Town Hall on South Street, with marchers proceeding to the Green, a common pasture in revolutionary times, and continued at a square that is literally the town center, where another stage was set up. Everywhere you looked, there were people of all ages in great abundance in the beautiful day, mild for January.
While last year, I was an attendee in Trenton at the Women’s March, this year I volunteered to work the event. Refreshingly, when I submitted my request, the volunteer coordinator got back to me immediately–showing respect for my time and service. I was kept informed every step of the way, receiving detailed instructions closer to the day of the event as well as reminders the evening before. This displayed excellence and a great deal of integrity. When someone’s word is their bond, and they make good on it at every turn, that builds trust. I had the opportunity to be part of the volunteer contingent helping control the crowd at Town Hall and ended up with a ringside seat for some excellent speeches.
Leading off, Elizabeth Meyer hit all the bases for me–she spoke of the myriad of women represented from all walks of life, all cultures, and all orientations and levels of experience. She thanked everyone for being out together to march for their individual causes, as one body of like-minded people seeking change. She also commented on how, in addition to there being many more women, there were more men out to support equality in the groups represented. Morristown Mayor Timothy Dougherty welcomed everyone to town and opined that, while they had expected about 6,000 people, they had clearly underestimated. The group ultimately numbered about 15,000 strong and over the course of the entire day, there were no incidents of violence and only one medical emergency. There were a number of speakers at Town Hall and even though Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker were originally scheduled to speak in Morristown, they phoned in from Washington DC, where they were helping negotiating re-opening the government, to address the marchers via cellphone–ahhh, the myriad miracles of technology!
This event was extremely well run. Each activity, from arriving and parking to marching and more, was advertised and well-articulated. The speakers were given particular timing and each one took only their share, or less. Ultimately, the March was well-organized, ran on time, and achieved its purpose, and people left with an experience that was enlightening, encouraging, and that provided building blocks for future days of greater community. It made for a brilliant day overall and one that mirrored proceedings around the country and around the globe.
Meyer’s final words to the crowd prior to beginning the March in Morristown were to her daughters, where she asked them to look at the group before them–women of all ages and backgrounds, all levels of experience–and know that wherever they are, they have a voice and like these women before them they have an obligation. When you see something, say something, and remember that each person has their own unique voice and should have the same opportunities. When you see something wrong, speak up and make it right. Integrity, respect, service, and excellence in action were watchwords here. See you NEXT year!