On Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, millions of women in America and all over the world gathered in cities and towns to show just how powerful they are. Widespread demonstrations of this size naturally had marchers with funny, poignant, and intense signs that showed the diverse reactions to Trump's presidency. But some women chose to reference women's rights history with their Women's March signs, and it was the perfect reminder of how far women's rights have come and how far they still have to go.
Like countless major protests before, one of the largest Women's Marches took place in Washington, D.C. where women and their allies paraded their signs close to the newly-inaugurated President Trump. This massive string of protests took place on every continent (including Antarctica) and drew people from incredibly diverse backgrounds. As such, Women's Marchers brought with them rich stories and histories that are as old and amazing as womanhood itself. From Sojourner Truth to the first female presidential candidate, to Audre Lorde and The Handmaid's Tale, these signs recall countless crucial historical moments in women's history that they won't let America's new president and the rest of the world forget.
1A Reference To Sojourner Truth's Famous Abolitionist Speech
The presence of this "Ain't I A Woman" sign at the New Orleans Women's March contains many levels of symbolism. It not only harks back to Sojourner Truth's speech of the same name that sought to join the causes of women's suffrage and the abolition of slavery, but also to the book by feminist author Bell Hooks of the same name, and a speech with the same title by trans actress and activist Laverne Cox. This sign's presence at a Women's March that many feared would exclude Black women and other women of color speaks volumes.
2Another Take On "Ain't I A Woman?"
Truth's seminal speech continued to ring true in Washington.
3A Powerful Symbol From Black Feminists And Women's Lib
By now, many are familiar with the "femifist" symbol that shows a fist inside a Venus "female" symbol. The origins of this symbol come from the "second wave" of feminism in the 1960s and 70s, when radical feminists used the symbol to show just how serious they were about women's power and liberation. While the femifist fsymbol is very widely used (I myself have a tattoo of it on my wrist), some Black feminists have criticized its use as an appropriation of a Black feminist symbol.
4Shoutouts To Two Major Feminist Figures
These posters were made by an artist in Savannah, GA. pic.twitter.com/WOqZVyy7G4— Amanda Jackson (@AmandaJ_TX) January 21, 2017
These signs reference two important figures in women's art history: famed R&B singer Lyn Collins, and erotic novelist Anaïs Nin. While neither of these artists were overtly feminist in their work, both expressed a liberated worldview that coincides with feminist thought.
5A Quote By A Dearly-Departed Poet
The sign on the right references Maya Angelou's famous poem "Still I Rise," and to add to the historical context, the young woman carrying it is reportedly the daughter of a man who attended the Million Man March, a march for the rights of African-Americans that convened on Washington in 1995. In light of the fears of repression and a reversal of civil rights, this slice of history is particularly welcome.
6Celebrating The First Female Presidential Candidate
This sign shows a quote from famed suffragist Victoria Woodhull, who ran for president in 1872 — almost 50 years before women gained the right to vote. Showing a sign from the first female presidential candidate (who was also a business owner and fortune-teller) after the shocking loss of a woman who quite nearly became the first female president is seriously poignant.
7A Classic Pro-Choice Sign
The National Organization of Women is one of the largest and most well-recognized women's rights groups to come out of the women's lib movement. These round "Keep Abortion Legal" signs are instantly recognizable to anyone who's looked at photos from protests dating back to the 60s, and it's not hard to see why they'd make a resurgence at the Women's March.
8A Great Occasion For An Audre Lorde Quote
These women are from Kenya and Côte d'Ivoire pic.twitter.com/8XfN4CHCci— Bim Adewunmi (@bimadew) January 21, 2017
There are very few occasions that quotes from the inimitable Black lesbian writer Audre Lorde don't apply to, and the Women's March was definitely one of them. This quote, from Lorde's 1981 speech titled "The Uses Of Anger: Women Responding To Racism," couldn't be more at home.
9This Dystopian Novel Is More Important Than Ever
There were tons of signs referencing The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood's amazing dystopian novel first published in 1985 that remains a classic of feminist science fiction. This particular sentiment was seen in various iterations at marches. With a Hulu show based on the book set to come out this year, these signs are particularly intense.
If these signs are any indication, women around the world won't let history repeat itself, and will honor our foremothers that fought for the rights we're fighting so desperately to keep and extend.