I am not an activist. I was a child during the civil rights movement. Growing up in a small town in the Pacific Northwest in the 60s, there was no person of color in the town, let alone my schools. The movement didn’t affect me.
I remember the headlines in the local newspaper screaming the death toll in Viet Nam each day, and the draft lottery targeted boys in my 1970 graduating class; but the last protest march in Seattle was just before my freshman arrival at the University of Washington. I was too late.
I admired Gloria Steinem and heard her speak, but I did not consider myself a feminist in the 70s. The movement didn’t affect me.
I left North Carolina shortly before the controversial governor took office in 2013 and the legislature went insane, missing the Moral Mondays movement. I would have participated. My ire at injustice was a planted seed.
Marriage equality affected me, and I got fired up. Before I left North Carolina, I put a sign in my yard. When I returned to Washington shortly afterward, I signed online petitions, wrote to my representatives, and wrote a commentary for the newspaper. Then I went quiet again.
But now I am uncomfortable. I was one of 10,000 at the Women’s March on Olympia, the state capitol. I did not march in protest of the election of Mr. Trump. That is done; he was duly elected and sworn in.
I marched because I sense a threat to the rights and privileges guaranteed by our Constitution, among them freedom of the press, equal rights, freedom of religion.
I marched because I fear the hard-won strides women have made toward equality will be erased.
I marched because of hatred I hear in the rhetoric toward immigrants in America and I fear for their well-being and for those who will seek refuge in the land of the free in the future.
I marched for my daughter and her wife, to protect their marriage. I marched for my bullied transgender sisters and brothers.
I marched for all who were not born into white privilege.
I marched because I want to send a message that we live in a global society. As the greatest nation on earth, it is our responsibility to assist, to the full extent of our abilities, those countries whose people are struggling.
I marched because “America first” is not who we are.
I marched because the strides that have been made to correct the damage we have been inflicting on Mother Earth for decades are being threatened. The lives of my grandchildren and their grandchildren depend on how the generations of adults living now care for our planet.
I marched for my grandmothers whose generation fought for my right as a woman to have a voice. I marched for my 100-year-old mother whose generation fought for the freedoms I enjoy. I marched for my four young grandsons that they will enjoy the freedoms my generation have won.
I marched because I feel the moral core of our nation is under attack.
I marched to join my voice with millions of women, men, and children around the world. I marched to send a message to Congress that I am watching, that I am expecting them to do their job to represent their constituents and uphold the Constitution, even if it means opposing the administration.
The Women’s March was just the beginning. Since Saturday, I have begun giving small contributions to organizations doing the work I want to see in the world. I have contacted my representatives to Congress several times. I’m signing online petitions and passing them on, just in case it helps.
The time is now to step out of my comfort zone and I’m not going back. I have discovered my voice, that I have a voice, that I am America—and a citizen of the world. That which affects my sisters and brothers, affects me.
I marched to show the world I care. And caring will change the world.
Versions of this post first appeared in the Centralia Chronicle and on the Story Circle Network‘s One Woman’s Day blog.