The easy-going tone at the Boston Women’s March for America began with the soundcheck.
“I’m really not that funny,” said the man at the podium, after he switched his “check one-two” to a “check two-one,” a move met with applause and audible laughter.
From that point on, speakers’ voices echoed across a very responsive audience of more than 100,000 people gathered in the Common. (The crowd eventually grew to an estimated 125,000.)
The crowd was peppered with pink hats, American flags, and creative signs-- “Cinnamon Rolls, Not Gender Roles,” and “Grab Him By The Putin” among the many puns spotted.
The speakers included Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, but some of the most rousing speeches were by lower-profile individuals and groups.
The Boston Children’s Chorus sang “God Bless America” but instead of the original lyrics, sang “And crown thy good with sisterhood,” smiling with each other afterword as they reveled in extended applause from the audience.
After their song, the master of ceremonies, Mariama White-Hammond, a minister at Bethel AME Church in Boston, asked the crowd to acknowledge the deaf community in the crowd, and a sea of hands went up in visual applause. She also asked that everyone in the crowd affirm a stranger using eye contact, a means of bringing in people with autism or anxiety.
Signs from the crowd descended and flags stopped waving as everyone listened enraptured to the Cherokee version of “Amazing Grace” sung by Savannah Fox Tree, daughter of Claudia Fox Tree, a professional educator of Arawak descent.
The crowd listened to speeches, cheered frequently and bobbed up and down to Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love,” which wove itself between speakers as they entered and left the stage.
One of the marchers, Sunindia Bhalla of Boston, said she was pleasantly surprised to hear from Senator Ed Markey.
“We always hear how vocal Elizabeth Warren is, and it’s nice to hear how Mike Capuano and all of our legislators are really aligned and have the same views,” said Bhalla.
The Senator Markey brought up other legislators on stage with him and reminded the crowd that Boston has been the birthplace of a number of movements-- from the revolutionary war to abolition.
Many speakers highlighted the progressive history of the Bay State, and the organizers clearly made an effort to achieve intersectionality between different movements.
This effort likely came in the wake of criticisms of the national movement, the Women's March on Washington.
Some have spoken out saying the Washington organizers failed to adequately represent and include people of color.
The program organized in Boston seemed to fly in the face of that criticism.
“The intersectionality of so many movements and of feminism...It’s just been an inspiring, inspiring day,” said Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor-at-Large.
Pressley said she is proud, after the speeches and demonstration, to represent Boston and to be a resident of the city.
“We have an embarrassment of riches here in Massachusetts,” she said. “Boston showed up and showed out today.”
For a list of all the speakers from the Boston Women’s March for America, click this link.