BY CHONA SANTANDER O’GALVIN
NORFOLK — There we were: two suburban moms from Virginia Beach making the trek into downtown Norfolk via the Tide with our large cardboard signs. We didn’t know what to expect. We just knew we had to be there.
My friend Rowena and I observed the growing crowd aboard the Tide, tickled to see the couple who brought their two babies in tow, the whole family all decked out in their knitted pink pussyhats. More groups of women hopped on to the train with gusto, bearing their own large cardboard signs. Upon arrival at the York Street and Freemason Station, people on the train cheered loudly.
Little did we know that all of us were about to embark upon Norfolk’s part of what may be the largest one-day protest in U.S. history – the Women’s March on Washington and marches across the U.S.
Fifty of us crossed Brambleton Avenue and walked toward the Chrysler Museum of Art, adding to the massive crowd that had already assembled around “The Torchbearers” statue. And the crowd grew and grew and grew.
Despite the gloomy gray skies, the atmosphere was remarkably uplifting and inspiring. The tone was all love. Pure love.
People of all races and creeds snapped photos of each other’s signs and gave each other high fives in solidarity of the messages being shared. Messages calling to protect human rights. Messages calling for racial equality. Gender equality. LGBTQ equality. Reproductive rights. Religious freedom. Healthcare reform.
Teenagers’ signs boasting about girl power. Signs condemning sexual violence. Calls to save the climate and protect science. Calls to resist the terrifying political regime that took over our country a day prior.
The Norfolk Sister March focused on empowering our local efforts to effect change. Speakers included state Del. Daun Sessoms Hester, D-89th; Huffington Post contributor Lisa Suhay; U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. 3rd; and state Sen. Lionell Spruill Sr., D-5th – complete with his very own pink pussyhat. Along with the Norfolk Sister March coordinators, they led the march through the streets of downtown Norfolk, accompanied by a reported 3,000 peaceful protestors.
We rallied at the destination at the community space known as “The Plot” in the NEON District. The march concluded with invitations to participate in upcoming community forums and to remain vigilant in the fight for what is right.
I could barely contain my pride after walking side by side with so many that shared my passion to stand up and speak out.
As if returning home on a high wasn’t enough, seeing the enormous media coverage of the Women’s March on Washington and associated efforts on a global scale was indescribably moving. At least 400 Sister Marches across the country and almost 200 additional ones in other countries took place. My jaw dropped when I read that there was a march on every single continent on this Earth – even Antarctica!
I came home to my family that day, looked at my children’s little faces and knew I had taken part in something really big. The planet shifted that day, even amongst the backlash of those who criticized us as “whiners” or “sore losers.”
As the daughter of immigrants, the Asian-American wife of a multicultural husband, a creative professional and struggling working mother, I take strong exception to denigration.
This March was just the start of representing what we stand for as Americans and the values that make us compassionate human beings.
As proven by the tumultuous first days of his presidency, President Trump has awakened an uprising. Even here, in the great Commonwealth of Virginia, there is a loud rumbling brewing to preserve the America that was already great.
Santander O’Galvin is a graduate of Virginia Wesleyan College in media communications and works as the creative brand manager at Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation. She lives in Virginia Beach with her husband and two children, Cooper and Zoe. As a working mom, her hobbies include feeble attempts at yoga, running errands and drinking lots of coffee.
© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC