The soles of people’s shoes slowly became submerged in the muddy grass, and the overcast sky pressed down on the crowd.
Complaints bubbled through the people: “When will they start marching?”
Chants came in ripples down the hill facing Centennial Park West and Ivan Allen Boulevard Saturday afternoon in downtown Atlanta. “Start the march!” called the woman with a megaphone standing at the top of the hill, the Center for Civil and Human Rights behind her, looming in the background.
The crowd echoed the demand.
Yet, some intangible force cut through the air and into the words of the protesters. Here — backed up to the fence guarding the Center’s border, the day after Trump’s election, with mother nature on the edge — the spirit of the Atlanta March stayed valiant.
The next chant tumbled down the hill, “We are the resistance! We are the resistance!”
And so they were.
Their signs shouted what it seemed they could not say enough times. These were the messages they plastered onto cardboard boxes and poster board so that the world would see what they meant — so the world could see how much they meant it.
“The Future is Female!”
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun-damental Rights!”
“My body, my choice!”
Beyond the fence, screaming erupted in sync with the sound of brass instruments. Whispers spread through the crowd.
“It’s John Lewis.”
“He’s right there!”
As the civil rights icon approached, the screaming intensified — the protesters shouting in elation at the presence of him. His historical work for social justice trailing in the wind around him. Another proud chant came exploding from the people around the congressman.
“District Five! District Five!”
The Atlanta March for Social Justice & Women took a strong anti-Trump undertone with signs reading, “Honestly, there are too many problems with this administration to adequately summarize in one sign,” and “Not my oligarchy!”
The swaths of pink hats with cat ears swayed along the crowd.
“GRAB HIM BY THE SCROTE HE DIDN’T GET OUR VOTE,” screamed a sign from in front of an elderly woman.
The march started in screams with the people moving as one body of energy. Led by a few police officers and Congressman Lewis, the protesters marched as part of what would become one of the largest combined protests in U.S. History.
“No Trump. No KKK. No Fascist USA. No Trump.” they chanted through the streets. Cars honked over and over in agreement.
“No Trump. No KKK. No Fascist USA. No Trump.”
The signs stayed lifted in the air.
“We the people are women!”
Families marched together down the middle of streets as helicopters loomed in the cloud-dense sky overhead.
A small blonde girl posed gleefully with a sign reading, “Expect us to speak up, stand out, and fight for love!”
A short distance away a young boy in red held a sign above his head: “Fight like a girl.” The spirit of hope for a new wave of social advancement was sprinkled through the visually dreary day.
Through the rain, the mud and recent disheartening events, the gathering of so many like minded people here to fight intersectionally for social justice made energy soar and hearts lift in some — although momentary — desperate hope.
Haley, 14, attends Grady High School.