Crowds for the Women’s March on Washington far exceeded estimates of 200,000, with peaceful, yet vocal protesters flooding the streets of the nation’s capital today. Though an exact number is not yet known, estimates for attendance range from 500,000 to one million participants.
The goal was simple: to send the newly inaugurated president the message that dissenting voices will not be silenced, and messages of hate will not be tolerated.
Speeches on the main stage began around 10 a.m. and lasted past 3 p.m. – two hours longer than anticipated. Scheduled speakers included Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Janet Mock, Ashley Judd, Michael Moore and countless (seriously, there were a lot) others.
Alicia Keys made a surprise cameo and led the crowd in a rendition of “This Girl is on Fire.” Later, Madonna took the stage – and microphone – dropping three F-bombs before saying that she has “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House” and then performing “Express Yourself” and “Human Nature.”
Singer and Hidden Figures actor Janelle Monáe reminded participants that Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Jesus all came from women, then paid tribute to women of color who died in police custody including Sandra Bland, Natasha McKenna and Tanisha Anderson.
The Mothers of the Movement joined Monáe on stage and said the names of their sons – Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Mohamed Bah, Trayvon Martin, and Dontre Hamilton – who died as a result of police brutality, while the crowd responded “say his name.” #BlackTransLivesMatter co-founder Cherno Biko commemorated Mya Hall and Deonna Mason – two trans women killed by police.
In a day full of hopeful messages, 6-year-old immigration activist Sophie Cruz gave one of the most powerful speeches of the day – in English, then Spanish – encouraging those in attendance to ”fight with love, faith, and courage so that our families will not be destroyed.”
Although organizers initially told participants that there were too many people to follow through with the march, crowds poured through the streets of downtown D.C., walking and chanting their way to the back of the White House.
No arrests were made today, according to D.C. police, compared to the 200 that were made during inauguration protests yesterday.