This weekend, a few thousand people from Western New England will travel to the national Women’s March in Washington, D.C. It’s planned for the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Their goal: To show support for racial tolerance, women’s rights, and other issues organizers say the incoming administration falls way short on.
On a recent morning, Lindsay Sabadosa asked her 10-year-old daughter Kala to get a folder from her car, which has doubled as her satellite office these past few months.
“I actually pulled all the muscles in my shoulder because my purse is so heavy,” Sabadosa said, “because I’ve been carrying around just mounds of information [about the march].”
Mostly from her kitchen table in Northampton, Sabadosa has coordinated transportation for hundreds of women from Western Massachusetts who want to march in Washington. It’s the anchor event in what has bloomed into hundreds of so-called “sister marches” in Greenfield, Boston, New York and beyond.
“We are up to 616 sister marches,” Sabadosa said, as she refreshed the march website on her computer. “That’s around the world.”
Sabadosa, a French-Italian translator who supported Hillary Clinton, said she decided to attend the D.C. march with her daughter in the days just after the election, when a Facebook post launched the event.
“I actually thought it was the best idea,” Sabadosa said. “It would be very healing to go to this march, so I booked our hotel room.”
National organizers predict at least 200,000 attendees — with local volunteers like Sabadosa helping them get there.
Sabadosa said the inspiration she draws from people willing to make the 400-mile trek is matched only by her anxiety getting them there safely. She’s helped book flights, trains, buses, organized ride-shares in private cars and juggled an active waiting list.
“Right now I’m working on bus-ticket swaps,” she said.
Many chartered buses are going there and back in 24 hours. A Springfield lawyer named Chris is getting on one just after midnight before Saturday’s event. She said this will be her first political march, and she asked us not to use her last name so her relatives won’t find out she’s going.
“There are family members who would just absolutely not support this because they support Donald Trump and have taken the kind of ‘get over it’ attitude,” she said.
A former independent turned Democrat, Chris said she’s marching primarily to defend the First Amendment rights of the press and people who might disagree with the new president.
Shirley Edgarton of Pittsfield said she’s marching against what she considers Trump’s pledge to discriminate against Muslims, immigrants and other groups.
“This is more than politics,” she said. “This is about humanity.”
Edgarton is a cultural proficiency coach for the Pittsfield public schools. She’ll be chaperoning six female students on a bus to DC.
“I want young women I work with to understand they have power, voices and civic responsibility to themselves as well as others,” she said.
Edgarton, who is African American, said she heard criticism that march leaders could have included more people of color in the early organizing, but that didn’t turn her off.
“I’m OK with marching under the banner of women,” she said, “because we do need to exercise sisterhood also.”
And organizers hope that sisterhood lasts long after the marchers come home.