Saturday afternoon, one day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, approximately 125,000 people filled the Boston Common to show their support for women’s rights and social justice at the Boston Women’s March for America.
The march began with a series of performances and speeches by Massachusetts elected officials, union leaders and community members, and continued with a one-mile march through part of the city’s Back Bay neighborhood.
Many participants wore pink hats, carried posters with messages of inclusivity and sang patriotic songs such as “This Land Is Your Land” as they marched.
Similar marches took place in many cities across the United States, including Washington, D.C., New York City and Los Angeles, where demonstrators gathered to express their opposition to actions they fear the new president will take against civil rights.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh assured participants that he plans to lead the city in the fight for equal rights for minority groups, including women and members of the LGBT community.
“We are going to be the first state in the country to fight back on Washington when they start to go after different things that affect so many different people,” Walsh said. “We’re going to stand up. We will take this fight from the Boston Common to … Washington to let the president know that he is supposed to represent all of us.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren encouraged attendees to fight for an increased minimum wage, debt-free higher education, environmental protections and equal pay for equal work, emphasizing the importance of basic dignity and economic opportunity for everyone.
“For too long, American families have seen a government and an economy that isn’t working for them, and Trump and the Republicans promise to make America worse,” Warren said. “We can whimper, we can hide or we can fight back. I’m here to fight back, and that is why we come together today.”
Carol Rose, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said she feared the new president would rescind many civil rights, including access to contraception and abortion services, funding for artists and freedom of the press.
“Today, the people of Massachusetts and people around the nation are rising up to say that they believe in freedom and democracy,” Rose said. “This is what happens when women have a say in our democracy: we’re able to come together to work constructively and non-violently and be strong in demanding the rights that every person is entitled to in this great nation.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey also took to the stage to send President Trump a powerful message.
“President Trump and your administration: if you try to cancel the healthcare of millions of Americans, if you try to hand over the government to big oil and big moneyed interests, if you defund Planned Parenthood and interfere with our bodies, if you threaten the freedoms that truly make America great, you’re going to hear from us,” Healey said.
Donna Kelly-Williams, the president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, attended the march with several of the organization’s members, and said she is most concerned with the repercussions of efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“Our No. one objective is taking care of people, and we’re seeing a lack of that,” Kelly-Williams said. “We’re here to make sure that going forward, we do everything we can to ensure that there is healthcare for everyone.”
Penny Shaw, 57, of Albany, New York, said she has never participated in a protest before, but decided to participate in the Boston Women’s March because her son has a disability, and the president’s inauguration “felt personal.”
“I have never seen my country come down this far, and I’m not going to sit tight anymore,” Shaw said. “I’m here and I’ll be wherever I need to be for as long as it takes, but I’m not going backwards.”
Emerson Wolski, 19, of Becket, Massachusetts, said he attended the march to show other men that supporting women’s rights is the right thing to do.
“A lot of men feel like it’s not their responsibility to stand up for women, but we are a part of this world and if we don’t fight for other people, they won’t fight for us,” Wolski said. “Everyone has to stand by everyone.”
Sanji Gidwaney, 34, of Cambridge, brought her two young children to the march to show them “the power of taking action.”
“I want my children to see that democracy does work, and that there’s a lot of power in what we can accomplish when we all work together,” Gidwaney said.
Ezgi Toper contributed to the reporting of this article.