By Viola Kanevsky

Viola Kanevsky organised a bus to take a large group of demonstrators (some of whom are in the photo above) to the Women’s March on Washington from New York. Here she records her impressions of the day. 

The Washington monument was shrouded in a blue mist all day and the white city on the hill looked grayer than ever I’d seen it.

The Women's March DC

You’ll have to look at social media for coverage because helicopters were banned and media trucks barred from entering the city so almost no reporters. Virtually no police at all. Half a million people and no significant police force, and yet, all calm, quiet, peaceful. No police needed. Small children, babies. No pushing. No screaming. No infractions of rules. Nothing.

The rally was so enormous the march route had to be changed. Not enough room for people to walk, and still a million and a half women, children and men waited, talked, sang, chanted, and finally walked. They walked from independence avenue and 3rd street to the Washington monument on every side street and avenue.

There were homemade posters raised over heads in pink hats in every direction as far as the eye could see. No cell phone reception. And still, the people were calm. Women held hands and watched their teen girls walk ahead of them. Parents carried babies and toddlers on their shoulders and not one person jostled another.

Finally as the the sky began to turn dim, the people started to go back to their buses and cars. But the subway stations were closed and the people were made to walk two or more miles to stations further removed from the national mall. There were few if any food trucks or bodegas to be found. No one offering water. Sanitary facilities so few and far between that the wait for them took several hours.

Buses were not allowed to come in and pick up their passengers but instead were made to park at the last subway stop out of the city. Parking permits paid for in advance were not honored without explanation. People packed slowly and calmly and patiently onto the subways and then began to share stories and chant “this is what democracy looks like!”

The metro machines ran out of cards. The lines to buy them stretched several blocks. Still no one was angry. People thanked and smiled at the few police officers and national guardsmen and women they met. The bus drivers waited. They called us to make sure no one got lost. They lined up in stadium lots and on the outskirts of town in rows 2000 deep.

And now we reflect. Where to from here? I believe the year of the woman has come. We can walk in peace without restraints or threats. We can speak out calmly and protest rationally and teach our children how to demand a just and equitable future for an enlightened nation.

This is what democracy looks like. It’s face is gentle and it’s voice is soft but its determination is steely. Democracy is a woman.

Democracy is a woman - the Women's March on Washington

Viola Kanevsky is a pediatric optometrist in New York. An émigré from the former Soviet Union, Viola lived in Netanya, Brussels, and Miami, until her family settled in New York City in 1979.  She is the Metropolitan Trustee of the New York State Optometric Association board, a board member of the Optometric Society of New York, the vice president of the board of the Interschool Orchestras of New York, a Trustee on the board of the Ilya and Emilia Kabakov Foundation, serves on the parent advisory committee of Concerts in Motion, and is the treasurer of the NY chapter of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH).  She also volunteers for the New York Youth Symphony and travels to orphanages in Peru on medical missions.

Last Updated on January 31, 2023 by Editorial Staff

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