Marching with 4,500+ friends in downtown Buffalo

On Sunday, January 21st, I went to photograph and to experience the second annual women’s march in downtown Buffalo. It was a colorful event on a warm winter day, a good day for a march. Many people marched, with friends, with family, and with their dogs. The Buffalo Police estimated the crowd size as 4,500. Another estimate was 10,000 marchers. I had originally thought that there would be about 1,000 people. It turned out to be an amazing although, at times, overwhelming and even a bit claustrophobic. It was certainly something to see and experience. I was surrounded and sometimes enveloped by a large group of  marchers, who carried signs and other images, which offered a great variety of messages. 

Nathan McMurray at Buffalo’s City Hall

It has been a year since Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States. In my opinion, the year has felt like a nightmare from which there is no awakening. I have to admit that I had come into the event, wondering if little people such as me had the power to change hearts and minds. Was my country lost?

The situation in the United States, said Nathan McMurray, a candidate for Congress in New York’s 27th district and supervisor of the Town of Grand Island, is like “being trapped in a bad reality TV show.” 

Photographing Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown
Shannon Smith of WIVB-TV, a
CBS affiliate in Buffalo, conducts
an interview.

How could we escape the reality TV show, in which it feels as if we are constantly being voted off of the island via Twitter? How could we escape a bad reality TV show that causes us to fight with one another, instead of with the people who created the show and who are forcing us to live it, day after day? There were any ways suggested. We were encouraged to take various actions, including registering to vote. We were told that our vote empowers us. The march itself allowed the thousands present other ways to express their viewpoints, including singing and carrying colorful signs and dressing in a variety of costumes. 

A choir director leads a selection
of songs.

With a police escort, we were able to march in the streets of downtown Buffalo. We had started at the steps of City Hall.

One of the more unusual images
at the march.

We walked past Buffalo’s City Court. We stopped briefly at the Erie County Holding Center, one of Erie County’s jails, where people have committed suicide out of desperation. It is alleged that there is very little oversight of this jail. I’ve been in prison and even in the holding center in the past. People on the outside don’t really know what goes on in these places. Several people stood at the doors of the Holding Center, waving signs that read “Prisoners are people, too.” That was an important message because, sometimes, we forget.

We continued to march and, before long, we were back at City Hall, where speakers were invited to share their viewpoints with us.

Buffalo’s City Hall

These speakers, who talked to us, both before and after the march, included New York’s deputy governor  Kathy Hochul, Buffalo’s Mayor Byron Brown, Congressman Brian Higgins, and Nathan McMurray. He had brought his wife and two sons to the march. He said that one of his sons told him, “Dad, there are a lot of women here.” 

His observation was accurate. Many women did participate in the march. They were outside, wearing costumes and carrying signs that said that their voices were worthy of being heard. 

While speaking, Nate asked for an American flag. He said that we need to have more flags at rallies and marches. When we carry our flag, we are telling everyone that “this is our country.”

Our flag represents our country. It represents everyone, Nate said. Carrying it is a reminder that we have a place in our country and that we deserve to be heard.

Former County Legislator Betty Jean Grant of Buffalo speaks to the crowd following the march.

3 thoughts on “Marching with 4,500+ friends in downtown Buffalo”

  1. "How could we escape a bad reality TV show that causes us to fight with one another, instead of with the people who created the show and who are forcing us to live it, day after day?"

    That really says it right there! That's the question. Because he is right, we are trapped.

    I'm glad you were there. With both chronic fatigue syndrome and winter blues, January is never going to be a good month for me to be at a march, but my heart & my spirit go there.

  2. Alice, I recall your post about the march last year as well! and it is inspiring to see you were there this year too.. and well, getting voted off via twitter, not an option for any of us, right? we make our voices heard too, like you said..
    planning for this around everyone's else's schedules at home is almost impossible so will keep it an option for the next time myself.

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