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Hundreds of Thousands Attend Women's March on Washington


    Hundreds of thousands of mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, parents and children, and groups of friends gathered January 21 for the Women’s March on Washington.

    The protest was peaceful but not quiet.

    Similar marches took place across the United States and around the world.

    Demonstrators gathered in Tokyo and Chicago; Berlin and Sydney; Capetown and Los Angeles.

    Organizers said more than 600 marches were planned worldwide. They took to the streets the day after U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

    His swearing-in ceremony Friday also drew hundreds of thousands of people to Washington.

    Organizers of the Women’s March on Washington said as many as 500,000 people filled the streets of D.C.

    View of the Women's March on Washington from the roof of the Voice of America building in Washington, D.C. January 21, 2017 (B. Allen / VOA)
    View of the Women's March on Washington from the roof of the Voice of America building in Washington, D.C. January 21, 2017 (B. Allen / VOA)

    The crowd was so big that people could not march as a group to the White House as planned. Organizers told people to make their own way there. Crowds of people marched down several D.C. streets leading to the White House.

    In Chicago, organizers canceled the marching part of their event for safety reasons. The crowd had reached an estimated 150,000 people.

    Many traveled downtown to the march on the Washington Metro subway system. Metro officials estimated that it had had more than 470,000 riders by 1 p.m. on Saturday, the Washington Post reported.

    One metro station became so crowded that the National Guard was told to stand by.

    On the trains and in the streets, demonstrators wore pointed pink hats and held handmade signs.

    Their signs called for respect of women’s rights and human rights. Protesters said they hoped they sent Donald Trump a message on his first full day in office.

    Rose Malone came from San Francisco, California, and brought her daughter and granddaughters from Colorado. She says protesting is patriotic.

    “The tradition of standing up for those less fortunate. Give me your tired, your poor, that’s what America is about.”

    Victoria Bomberry also traveled across the country to be there. She marched with a group called Indigenous Women Rise.

    They came from Oklahoma, Montana, Texas and California. They marched in support of Native American rights and for the protection of natural resources in the United States.

    Protesters were calling for equal rights for women and minorities, affordable health care, abortion rights, rights for disabled people and for action on climate change.

    Singers, writers and actors spoke to the crowd before the march, including America Ferrera. Her parents came to the U.S. from Honduras. She said it is a difficult time to be a woman and immigrant in this country.

    “Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack. And a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday.”

    Gloria Steinem is a long-time activist for women’s rights. She thanked the crowd for coming.

    "Thank you for understanding that sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are. Sometimes pressing 'send' is not enough."

    Many men, husbands, brothers, sons and partners participated in the event, too. Scott Martin came from Delaware with his wife and daughter. He says Trump is “anti-rights.” He also says he hopes Trump will only be president for one term, and not two.

    “We’re here to say you’re going to be out of here pretty soon. We’re not letting you get away with anything. If you do good, that’s fine, I’ll give you credit for that. But if you don’t, people need to know so that they can make up their mind in four years again."

    Firouzeh Stankovic of Bethesda, Maryland, came to the United States from Iran as a young child. Stankovic said she felt like an outsider in America last year, for the first time in her life. She said Trump’s call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States and for tougher immigration enforcement frightened her.

    “It makes you wonder what it is going to mean for me and my family,” she said.

    Stankovic said the march will send a message that many people are ready to fight against policies they consider harmful to immigrants and others in America.

    Sidney Walker came with a group of women from the College of William and Mary in the state of Virginia. She says the group wanted to stand together for women’s rights.

    "It’s just important to out and let people know that we’re here and that we’re fighting and we’re not just going to sit back and take it.”

    Singer Alicia Keyes performed her song “This Girl is on Fire” at Saturday’s event.

    Many of the marchers said they felt fired up—or excited—about the gathering. How that energy and excitement may be turned into action is still unknown.

    I’m Anne Ball.

    Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English with material from Reuters, Associated Press and Bruce Alpert. Ashley Thompson and Caty Weaver were the editors.

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    Words in This Story

    chant – v. to say (a word or phrase) many times in a rhythmic way usually loudly and with other people

    patriotic – adj. having or showing great love and support for your country

    abortion – n. a medical procedure used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus

    dignity – n. the quality of being worthy of honor or respect

    platform – n. something that allows someone to tell a large number of people about an idea, product, etc.

    tougher – adj. stricter or harder