The Historic People’s Climate March

The April 29, 2017 Historic People’s Climate March was unlike any of the other huge protest marches in Washington that I have participated in over the last nearly 50 years.  For me, the first of these was the MARCH TO WASHINGTON, November 15 1969, organized by the New Haven Committee for the Fall Offensive Against the War in Vietnam (described earlier in a C-Street post).

Why historic?  What was special about this latest climate march?

A key point is that the protest was directed not against the US involvement in a particular action, e.g., War in Vietnam, War in Iraq, building the Keystone XL Pipeline, but against the first 100 days of the policies and practices of the newly-elected American President, himself.  The plethora of  homemade signs expressed a high level of anger and frustration:  “Liar, liar pants on fire;” “Wish Trump was a Chinese Hoax;” “We Need Green, Not Greed;” “Resist Cultural Genocide;” “I Will Be a Climate-Denier for Cash;” “There is no Planet B:”  “Climate Change is not An Alternative Fact;” “Donny, You Are Out of Your Element.”

 As Bill McKibben, Climate Advocate and Founder of the organization, described it, the goal of this April 29 March was to extend the aims proclaimed in the 2015 New York City People’s Climate March.  That 400,000 strong New York march, two years ago, was committed to forming a movement to protect the Earth and unify around the principle of environmental justice for all people, nationally and globally.

Thus, the April 29 march was a recommitment to a legacy established by the New York People’s Climate March. The 200,000 marchers in DC reiterated that they are a movement devoted to protection of the earth’s fragile ecosystems and unified by a spirit of equal justice for all peoples. They declared that they see what Trump is doing and that they will resist to his policies to undermine these values, strenuously – now and in the future.Another unique feature of the April 29 march was the temperature. Unlike the other days involving such massive gatherings of citizens to give voice to their concerns, most of which were very cold, this one rolled out in 90 degree weather, one of the hottest ever recorded for a day in April.  Clearly, for a march advocating climate action, this seemed appropriate, but it probably discouraged older and less fit people from participating.

Returning from 4 weeks in San Francisco, Link and I felt unusually enervated by the heat and humidity.  We stood in the sun on the curb outside the Newseum for an hour or so holding a hand painted sign discarded by another marcher,  “Try Breathing Our Air For a Day!”  A very popular message: time and again, people peeled out of the stream of marchers to ask permission to take our photograph.  Finally, done in by the heat, and knowing that there will be other marches to come, we retreated to the Metro eschewing the final speeches and closing events at the White House.

Alice Day

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