In November, days after the election of Donald Trump, Tami Gouveia started a Facebook group promoting the Women’s March on Washington. Within 24 hours, more than 1,000 people from Massachusetts had committed to attend.
Now, that list has blossomed to more than 8,000, with at least 60 buses prepared to ferry the marchers to the nation’s capital.
New York is the only state with a larger contingent so far.
“A lot of people are scrambling to feel like they can make a difference given all the rhetoric during the election,” said Gouveia, state lead organizer for the Massachusetts chapter of the Women’s March on Washington. “This is not an anti-Trump march, but it is about the things that Donald Trump has espoused.”
What is motivating thousands to board buses to Washington, D.C., next month? It is deeply personal.
There are mothers and fathers marching with their daughters to show that women’s rights are human rights. There are Jews and Hindus and Muslims, members of the LGBTQ community, people of color, and allies marching against the spike in discrimination they’ve seen or experienced. There are people who marched earlier against the war in Vietnam or for equal rights for women. There are students making their first march on Washington.
The march is scheduled for Jan. 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration. It is expected to draw 200,000 people from across the nation, according to national organizers.
Organizers said earlier this month that the march would begin near the US Capitol.
“Because I must” was reason enough for Tracie Jones to march.
“If I don’t acknowledge who I am and what I stand for, I am suppressing what I am,” she said.
Her parents were civil rights activists, part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Brooklyn. She is assistant director of diversity and inclusion programs at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Scores of Harvard students and staff are expected to board buses for Washington, Jones said.
She remembers calling her mother the day after Election Day.
“I told her I don’t know what to do,” Jones said. “My mother said, ‘You just pick up the mantle. Your generation has had it easy. You don’t know what it was like for us. It’s your generation’s turn.’ ”
Judy Holmes of Acton, a retired public school teacher, is attending the march with her youngest child. She’s worried about the masses of people descending on Washington. She’s worried about somebody driving into the crowd the way attackers did in Germany and France. Still, she’s ready to march for her daughters.
‘Going to Washington at this point is the right thing to do. I don’t want to look back and say I didn’t do anything.’Judy Holmes, retired school teacher
“I’m more concerned they have the hard-won freedom over their own destinies and their own bodies than anything else,” Holmes said.
“That would be the major driving reason I’m going. I would like them to be regarded as valuable people and have freedom of choice.”
Holmes marched against the Vietnam War decades ago in Washington.
“That was mostly young people driven to try to turn the tide of public opinion,” Holmes said. “I was convinced that this was the right thing to do. I also feel that going to Washington at this point is the right thing to do. I don’t want to look back and say I didn’t do anything.”
The Massachusetts chapter of the Women’s March on Washington has already selected slogans to put on signs. One is, “We don’t want to go back to the 1950s.”
Sign-making parties are planned across the state. Through a partnership with the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, the Massachusetts chapter has raised money to help women who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend. The Women’s Fund advocates for gender equity.
“We’re really forging relationships,” Gouveia said. “The march is one step. It’s a punctuation in a larger movement we’re trying to create here.”
Sister marches are being planned in Boston, Pittsfield, and Worcester on the same day for those unable to make the trip to Washington, she said.
“It’s important to show respect for all folks in our country, both men and women,” said Peter Jones, 51, from Acton. “The march is a good opportunity to show that in a positive way.”
He plans to march as an ally and a father of two sons and a daughter. Voting was one way citizens shape what happens in their country, Jones said. Marches are another.Cristela Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CristelaGuerra.
Because of incorrect information from organizers, a story in Wednesday’s Metro section about the Women’s March on Washington provided incorrect information about whether Worcester will have a similar event. There will be no march in that city.