500,000 Protesters Speak Out Against Trump, Sexism and New Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos

500,000 Protesters Speak Out Against Trump, Sexism and New Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos

Hundreds of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Washington Saturday afternoon, protesting Donald Trump the day after he was inaugurated president of  the United States. 

Fewer than 24 hours before, Trump’s America officially began, marking a shift in power from Democrats to Republicans. Attendance of the women’s rally dwarfed inaugural attendance, as 500,000 descended upon Washington.

Rallygoers at Women’s March on Washington raised up handmade signs. Their footsteps pounded the pavement as they marched from the U.S. Capitol past the Washington Monument. Protesters were supposed to march by the White House, but their numbers were too large and they were redirected along the route.  

Many traveled hundreds of miles to make the two-mile trek through the nation’s capital. 

Women, old and young, of all races and nationalities, flocked to the scene. Other rallies were held worldwide. In Florida, some protests included as many as 15,000 people.

With passion in their eyes and determination in their hearts, they had a message for President Trump: “We will not submit quietly.”

They did not feel the same pride as conservatives did Friday afternoon when their new president was sworn into office. To them, Trump’s victory felt hollow, a defeat that meant more than just losing an election — it meant the total loss of freedom and human rights. 

“Hey, hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” they chanted. 

Protesters were there for a myriad of reasons. From women’s rights, gay rights, abortion and environmental issues, the list of grievances with the new administration was long. 

Floridians in D.C. expressed the same sentiments. For teachers, however, the new administration is particularly worrisome. 

Eckerd College professor Kelly Debure told Sunshine State News the biggest reason she was attending the march was to protest the “troublesome” new direction of the country’s education system. 

In November, Trump nominated Michigan Republican highroller Betsy DeVos to head the U.S. Department of Education. DeVos has no education experience and has never been a teacher or served on any local school boards. 

That, education advocates say, is a huge problem.  Opposition to DeVos’ confirmation has been widespread, particularly from teachers who say DeVos’ lack of experience should discourage support for her. 

“Having a smart people who are informed and can think for themselves … is so important,” Debure told SSN. “We have been bamboozled by this snake oil salesman.”

Vismaya Rubin, a teacher in Miami-Dade County, told SSN DeVos’ lack of experience troubled her, too.

“I’m going to start going to a doctor who’s never been to medical school. That’s the best analogy I can make [on DeVos,]” she said. “How do you know about education if you’ve never [worked] in education?”

Rubin said she was particularly upset over the prominence of the Common Core State Standards, a controversial set of national education guidelines which opponents say doesn’t teach children the right material and lessens the value of quality education. 

“As much as we ‘have freedom to teach,’ we really don’t. We are looked at by the scores of our kids,” she said. 

Rubin and Debure said DeVos has to go. 

“Testing does not test to all learning styles,” Rubin said. 

Other protesters said the sheer magnitude of the march should speak loud and clear to Trump. 

Said one marcher from Boston, waving a rainbow flag:

“Why am I here? Why we’re all here. To show mass resistance.”

Most marchers were in Washington to celebrate a kind of “anti-inauguration” and said they will return home after the weekend to continue their protest from there.

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.


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