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Inauguration Weekend 2017: Parents Plan, Protest and Provide Advice

Seattle-area families share their various experiences from the weekend of Donald Trump's inauguration

Published on: January 23, 2017

Signs for the Womxn's March
Children make signs at Natalie Singer-Velush's impromptu sign-making party the night before the Womxn's March in Seattle. Photo credit: Natalie Singer-Velush

All of last week I’d heard of a “gathering” at my local radio station, KEXP, which is conveniently located on the street where I live. “Come sing with us,” the ad said. I’d blown it off (sing?!) but Friday morning, I felt differently. The idea of being somewhere — anywhere — instead of in front of a screen the morning of Friday, January 20, 2017, was appealing. The idea of being with my neighbors and singing “Give Peace a Chance” together was even more enticing.

Those five minutes will hold me steady for years ahead. Kids cheered and played behind us as the morning’s MC took the stage shortly after 9 a.m. “Give Peace a Chance” is an easy song to sing, he explained. John Lennon and Yoko Ono planned it that way; the chorus, which is also the title, is what mattered most.

And so, we sang. Surrounded by hundreds of others, standing outside Key Arena, we sang the song John and Yoko did 48 years ago from the safety of their bed. We sang even though we didn’t know the words. We sang even though we didn’t know each other. We sang even though we didn’t know the future.

The authors below also can't predict the future, but like me, they sought community this weekend. And community need not be partisan. Whether Inauguration Weekend 2017 was a time of celebration for your family or a time of protest, we welcome you to share your experience. What memories will you carry from Jan. 20, 2017, and the days that immediately followed? What memories do you hope your children carry?

Protest signs made by Natalie Singer-Velush and friends
Protest signs made on Inauguration Day 2017. Photo credit: Natalie Singer-Velush

Follow the signs

When I woke up Friday I felt numb. I tried to avoid news of the inauguration, and instead focused on work and kids. We had vague plans to attend the Seattle Womxn's March on Saturday, but I knew we'd be juggling my daughters' basketball games at opposite ends of the city and I hadn't found the energy to sort out the nuts and bolts of getting to a protest. In my inertia, I felt worse by the minute.

But suddenly around midday on Friday I got a powerful urge to connect with people. I messaged our friends and acquaintances and announced an impromptu sign-making party at our house that night, with wine and chili and a yuuuge pile of cardboard, tape and markers. Soon, 20 adults and children were over, talking, laughing, drinking and eating. The march on Saturday would be powerful, but this night of community would turn out to be what we’ll remember most. 

I thought the kids, who range from 6 to 11, would need help making march signs. But they set to work on their own, cutting, pasting, coloring and helping each other. In one corner, two 7-year-olds crouched over a poster hand-lettering "Black Lives Matter." On the couch, my 9-year-old chewed her lip and wrote furiously. My sixth-grader turned sarcasm into action. They even made a collection of origami cats when they learned that the word ‘pussy’ was of some importance.

The slogans these children, who all happen to be girls, came up with blew us away. These girls, who this past year witnessed a wrench thrown into our democracy and a bully win, clearly had feelings to express. Their words were angry, loving, deep and moving. They basked in each other’s company, their solidarity like oxygen, and watching them I realized things are not as hopeless as they seemed. These girls will soon change the world.

— Natalie Singer-Velush, former executive editor of ParentMap 

Three generations of women march on the Womxn's March in Seattle on Jan. 21, 2017
Three generations of women march on the Womxn's March in Seattle on Jan. 21, 2017. Photo credit: Angela Goodwin

“Oh. My. God. Mom, LOOK at how many people,” my 14-year-old daughter half-shouts, eyes owl-wide, hopping up onto the raised median on S. Jackson Street outside the Viet-Wah supermarket to snap a few photos of the seemingly inexhaustible crowd streaming from Judkins Park, the starting point for Saturday’s Womxn’s March.

This is why I marched with my daughter. Not because I thought that by marching we’d be changing any minds that day. But to simply represent. And to let my daughter see, hear and viscerally feel what it means to be part of something important, something bigger than herself and her day-to-day orbit of group connections (school, friends, family, sports, band, etc.)  We had five hours on the streets of our city to bear witness and feel like an active part of history (or herstory.) We took in the multi-generational crush — plenty of teens out there — and talked about our own family’s immigrant past. About the fear many are feeling. About responsibility for others.  About the suffragettes. About birth control. And about the adorable canine trotting ahead of us, sporting a T-shirt proclaiming “My dog would make a better president than Trump.”

We talked to other marchers about their signs. (Well, OK, I talked to people. My daughter observed.) When we got home, I watched my teen jump online to read news stories about marches around the globe. This weekend, the news wasn’t some detached, somewhere-else thing. I watched it become real for her. She had been part of it. And although she’s crestfallen about missing turning 18 by a matter of days for the next presidential election, I can only hope that she’s been inspired to make a difference any way she can outside the confines of the ballot box. And we’re both ready to march again. And again.

— Lynn Schnaiberg, an award-winning journalist and author of Outside Magazine's Urban Adventure Chicago

Sonja Hanson and her family march in the Womxn's March
Sonja Hanson and her family march in the Womxn's March in Seattle on Jan. 21, 2017. Photo credit: Sonja Hanson

I, like many people, spent Nov. 9 in disbelief that we came so close to electing the first woman president and then… we got Trump. I was horrified by many things he said and did during his campaign that hurt, maligned and excluded various groups of Americans. As a woman and mother, I was particularly put off by his bragging about grabbing women without their consent. Attending the Womxn’s March on Saturday was a powerful way to come together and show that we will protect each other and stand up to injustice.

I was proud to be at the march with my mother and sister-in-law — two powerful women who inspire me. I was proud to see so many of my friends around the country joining in other sister marches. The silver lining in a Trump presidency is that he’s actually bringing people together to rise up against him. I am more hopeful now than I’ve been in a few months that people aren’t afraid to hit the streets and fight for what is right. It is going to be an interesting and possibly frightening ride, but we’ve got strength in numbers and we just proved that a woman’s place is in the resistance!

— Sonja Hanson, accounting and admin manager of ParentMap

This weekend I participated in the Seattle Women’s March with great pride.  As a teacher from a high poverty school for nearly 20 years, issues that affect women and young girls are important to me. I walked with a group of like-minded teachers; together we carried in our hearts and memories thousands of students and their loving moms who have not been as privileged as we. Participating in the march was our way of saying that these girls matter.  

The energy began on the ferry ride over from Bremerton. The boat was filled with women and their families preparing for the walk. Voices were animated and signs were waved in practice. Marchers walked up and down the aisles, greeting one another and making new acquaintances. As we exited the boat and walked up the hill, the energy began to build.  

Blending into the crowd on Fourth Av., I was warmly greeted by women of all ages and backgrounds. I met women in their 90s and saw babies in arms. As we walked slowly down the street, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of others, the positive energy was infectious. Smiles and hugs were exchanged. 

Walking into the Seattle Center at the end of the march, the crowd was overwhelming. After spending some time greeting others, we slowly made our way back to the waterfront. The ferry ride home was much quieter but peaceful. The boat was filled with pink hats; signs that had done their duty laid quietly on the floor. Friends new and old pulled away from the shore and watched the city skyline grow smaller. Voices were quieter and marchers rested. Our bodies were tired but our spirits were awakened. This was just the beginning.     

— Elaine Crawford, teacher

A group gathers on author Nancy Schatz Alton's front lawn the morning of Jan. 21, 2017
A group gathers on author Nancy Schatz Alton's front lawn the morning of Jan. 21, 2017. Photo credit: Chris Alton

Rising up together

On Saturday, my Seattle Womxn’s March group gathered on my lawn for a photograph: me, my 12-year-old and 15-year old daughters, five adult friends and five other tweens and teens. During our walk to the bus stop, people honked and cheered and my teen asked, “Mom, do you know them?”

“No, my love, this is what it’s like to march for a common cause; this is solidarity.” 

We were the last people able to fit on the bus. We crammed in next to babies and mamas and husbands and wives. Stories spilled between passengers. A woman told me she came here as a baby from Brazil; she became a citizen at age 18. The presidential campaign tore her up, hearing some people wanted people like her to leave. We agreed we needed this march. We wanted every American to feel like they still belonged in America.  

We exited the bus and began walking toward the march. Older women thanked us for bringing our daughters, saying they fought for these rights and our girls would know now why we need to keep fighting. As we strode up Jackson, the Seattle Womxn’s March met us. We cheered for the cops on bikes leading the marchers. Native Americans led the way. I cried. My girls raised their signs and cheered.

We joined the marchers. I felt calm and happy and proud. My tween told me her favorite chant was “Rise Up!” from a Hamilton song. That’s how marching felt: We were quietly and strongly rising up together. Every once in a while a roar of yells would rise up like a wave. We would join in with joyful shouts. 

My girls are quiet by nature, not as loud and ardent in their feminism as I am. But they held their signs up high and smiled. I had such post-election despair that marching together and feeling hope was a relief to them. We all needed to be surrounded by more than 100,000 women and men who agreed that women’s rights are human rights. There was power in the numbers: It meant change was possible. We wouldn’t let hate win. I know the road of this journey won’t always feel as safe and smooth as this march did. But it gave us the strength to start rising up. 

— Nancy Schatz Alton, Seattle-based author and blogger at Within the Words

Our meandering march around Green Lake

At 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, my 7-year-old and I were on my computer looking at photos of signs from the D.C. Women’s March. “Tweet women with respect.” “Women’s rights are human rights.” “Hate won’t make America great.”

We were looking for inspiration to decorate T-shirts — not for the Seattle Womxn’s March, though. Instead, we had chosen a low-key alternative: to complete a 5K race around Green Lake in support of Planned Parenthood. He was going to bike; I was going to run. I appreciated that the race was close to our house and affordable (only $15 to enter, kids were free or $8 to be official).

My favorite slogans were “Boys Will Be Boys  Good Humans” and “Without Hermione, Harry would have died in Book One.”

His favorite (being his sassy self) was “My dog would be a better president.”

Each sign was a gateway to a conversation that we could have spent hours on — from why it’s more powerful to be for something rather than against something to what signs like “Grab America Back” were referring to (God help me). But we were running late, so we had those conversations off and on as we drove to meet our friends for coffee, marked up our shirts and headed to Green Lake.

And then the mom fails started. First, I had the starting point of the race wrong (note to self: there are two boathouses at Green Lake). Second, I had forgotten to stow his bike in the car, and my kid decidedly did NOT want to walk 3.1 miles. The begging started: Please please please go get my bike.

Salvation appeared in the form of a handful of Starbursts from the friendly race organizers and the enthusiasm of my son’s friend, who saw a walk around Green Lake as an adventure, not a chore. We finally started on our way, watching the wave of runners rounding the last third as we were just starting. And somehow in the end, it was exactly right. It took us 1.5 hours to meander around the lake, but the sun was out, the boys found ice to crack and huge dogs to pet. Because we were walking we had time to talk to other families who were out with signs and smiles; to reflect on what feels like the beginning of a new era; and to appreciate, once again, how privileged we are in so many ways, and how our responsibility as citizens is to work (and pay attention, now more than ever) to extend those same privileges and opportunities to all.

— Elisa Murray, Out & About editor for ParentMap

Lucky day

When I want to do something, I am generally undeterred by complicated logistics (pretty sure my husband would roll his eyes while attesting to this trait). My friend Marie and I planned to do the Pussy Grabs Back 5K at Green Lake Saturday, and we also felt compelled to join the Seattle Womxn’s March. With some planning and a fair dose of luck, we made it work.

Along with my husband and 7-year-old son on his scooter, we enjoyed the camaraderie and casual, cheerful atmosphere at the run. Lots of participants wore pussy hats and kitty ears. The name of the race provided an opportunity to discuss with my son that some words have two meanings and, more importantly, the concept of consent. My son clearly understood that it’s not okay to touch someone, especially on their private parts, without their permission. He was aghast that an influential person like the president could have done this.

At the finish line, my son gobbled up the doughnuts, Oreos and Pringles and we chatted with other runners. Marie, motivated and wearing her socks that said “Bad Ass” on the back of her calves (with arrows pointing up), was a top finisher.

After the run, we stopped at the store to grab a sandwich and change clothes in the bathroom. Then my husband zipped us down to the edge of First Hill and dropped us off. We crossed the freeway on Yesler and jogged down to 6th Ave. and S. Jackson, arriving just as the lead group of marchers came into view. A stroke of luck for sure.

As we found Marie's sister and joined the marchers, barely moving at that point, I was struck by the peaceful, positive vibe and the number of creative signs. Among thousands we saw were: “I’m not usually a sign guy, but geez,” “A woman’s place is in the resistance,” “Respect my existence or expect my resistance” and “United we grow.”

While I had some hesitation around presenting myself as somehow suffering — as a white woman in Seattle I feel pretty privileged — it felt important to lend my support to marginalized groups, namely people of color, LGBTQ people and immigrants. My hope is that with this groundswell of voices, we can turn this symbolic march into actual action. Next on my list is figuring out how I, along with my family, will do that.

While the march wasn’t really silent, we didn’t hear many chants, only the occasional “whoop” or cheer that swept through the crowd. After picking up the pace a bit along 4th Ave., Marie and I continued to Seattle Center and eventually met up with my husband along Elliott Ave. for a ride home. Marie’s watch recorded us traveling nearly 22,000 steps, a distance of some 10 miles. In our minds, a day well spent.

— Nancy Chaney, calendar editor for ParentMap

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