50,000 March in Solidarity Along the Parkway in the Wake of Friday’s Presidential Inauguration
An estimated 50,000 people marched in solidarity along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on January 21st as part of the Women’s Marches that took place across the country on President Donald Trump’s first day in office.
After Trump’s election into the presidency, a Women’s March on Washington was organized via Facebook to demonstrate in our nation’s capital.
An estimated 673 sister marches were planned in conjunction with the March on Washington, spanning across the US and abroad — even in Antarctica. According to the Women’s March website, over 4.8 million marchers took part in demonstrations across the world.
The Women’s March on Philadelphia took place from 10AM to 3PM. Rally-goers walked along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway holding signs advocating for a variety of causes including women’s reproductive health, environmental protection and LGBTQ+ rights.
Signs reading “A woman’s place is in the resistance” and “Black lives matter” flew above the crowd. Chants of “Who run the world? Girls!” and “Women’s rights are human rights” could be heard throughout the mass of assembled people.
Emily Morse, the woman behind the March on Philadelphia, stood before the crowd of 50,000 on Saturday. Her daughter Izzy, 7, stood gazing up at her mother while she spoke to the crowd. “I wanted to see if I could get a couple hundred people in a park to march in solidarity,” Morse said. “Now we are here… we are here to declare loudly and clearly that women’s rights are human rights.”
The crowd began to chant, “Emily! Emily! Emily!” and nearly in tears, Morse said “I am just an ordinary person.”
Morse woke up on November 9th, 2016 devastated by the election results. She took to social media and saw an event page for the Women’s March in DC. She saw a lot of posts describing that people couldn’t attend because they had families or disabilities and were unable to make the trip.
From there, Morse decided to create a Facebook page to gauge interest for a sister rally in the Philadelphia area.
She wanted to make the event as inclusive as possible. “I felt like a lot of the rhetoric used in the election was really hurtful,” Morse said. “It crossed over many segments of our population and it was really important to me to not accept that as normal behavior in our society.”
Just a day and a half after creating the page, the idea quickly grew into what Morse described as “more than she could handle alone.” She had never planned an event before.
Morse works full-time and attends night school at Villanova University. She and her husband Kevin have three children — Spencer, 4, Noah, 4, and Izzy, 7. While planning the event, her husband and mother helped her juggle her work and school schedule.
She also turned to the Facebook page for help. She took on Amy Martin as an admin, who became her “full-blown partner” in organizing the event.
Morse gathered together a team to help organize. It included family friend Beth Finn — who had prior experience in organizing events on the Parkway — and Mariel Martin, who worked as the legal representative and lead-organizer for the march.
The goal of the event was not to be anti-Trump, Morse explained. “We are strategically choosing his first full day as President as a way to say we are part of your constituency… we want you to know that it is your duty to hear our voices and to represent us.”
Finn said she didn’t realize how divided the nation was until the election. “I think living in Philadelphia, I have been in a bit of a bubble. [For] such a huge percentage of Americans to go to the polls and vote for something that showed so much hatred towards so many Americans really broke my heart.”
She wanted the event to be inclusive to allow the nation to heal. “It’s really important that we reach out to the people [who voted for Trump] to try to understand what they are feeling,” Finn added.
As the Women’s March on Philadelphia began to gather momentum, the team had to work with the city to prepare for an expected 20,000 attendees.
Martin, working as the legal representative for the team, said that they had to go through nearly 30 different sub-groups within city government, including Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Homeland Security, the police force and the fire department.
When the day arrived, a totally unexpected 50,000 showed up. What followed was a peaceful and energized demonstration.
At the main stage, speakers such as Mayor Jim Kenney and Donna Bullock, the House Representative of the 195th district, spoke on the issues of equal rights.
Bullock was shocked by the amount of support. “I was not expecting this, to see it and to feel it. The love — I’ve seen fathers with their daughters on their shoulders and just the love that [they’re] holding up and embracing their daughter… It’s really symbolic to me about why we are here today.”
As the day came to a close, protesters both young and old put their posters around trees along the parkway to commemorate the day.
For Morse and protestors — the day was just the beginning of a period of continued growth for equal rights.
The crowd erupted in a roar as Morse looked on at the march that had once just been an idea.
“I may have not known what this would be when I started it, but I know now that it is a movement and we will not be stopped.” •