“Equality is the battle cry,” said Haddad. “We’re not here to protest. We’re here to be positive.”
Huge crowds overflowing the Boston Common from one end to the other, tons of excitement and music and “a lot of positive energy” was how state Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset, described early stages of the women’s march in Boston.
After listening to Massachusetts’ two Democratic senators, Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, Haddad said the message she heard from them on day two of Donald Trump’s presidency was the same: “Be vigilant.”
“Equality is the battle cry,” said Haddad, 66, a 16-year legislator and House leader, noting this year celebrates the 100th year of women’s suffrage.
“We’re not here to protest. We’re here to be positive,” she emphasized several times.
Sally Cameron, who this fall retired after a 31-year career as Bristol Community College director of public affairs in Fall River, noted the anti-Trump signs at the national march in Washington, D.C., but said that was not the prime message there.
It was “anti-going backwards.”
As a white woman of privilege, who was too young to experience the Civil Rights and women’s rights movement struggles, Cameron said, the hostile rhetoric Trump’s exhibited caused her concern and brought her to Washington.
“I just think we can’t go backwards,” said Cameron, 61, of Carver.
Haddad, in a message during the lengthy speakers program that delayed the Boston march more than an hour, remarked immediately about the crowd dwarfing the 80,000 predicted. She said the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation was estimating it was approximately 120,000, while there were TV reports putting the number as high as 175,000, she said.
It made Boston’s women’s march the second-largest in the country after Washington, D.C., where an estimated 500,000 people hit the streets.
“There was just a lot of positive energy,” Haddad said. “It was really a very uplifting day.”
By that Haddad said while the marchers were gathered “for our personal reasons” her own most personal ones could be construed as universal.
With four grandchildren – three girls and a boy – Haddad wants them to be able to attend college “without crushing debt,” and for their lives to demonstrate that “people have a choice.”
That would mean over who they wish to marry, control of their bodies and having affordable health care, she said as examples. She said many were there to show support for preserving the environment, for women’s health, to prevent domestic violence.
Haddad took a bus from Fall River and New Bedford with more than a dozen friends to Boston. She estimated about half the House Democrats attended the march.
“We’re not marching against anything. … People want to be involved,” said the former physical education teacher for the Somerset school system.
Erica Scott-Pacheco of Fall River, with her mother, Nancy Scott of Rehoboth, and two close friends, said, “We are humbled to be here and listen to the inspirational speakers uniting our community and nation. It is a good day to be a woman!” said the 32-year-old, who works as director of development for South Coastal Counties Legal Services.
Of the march itself, she said, “It has been extremely peaceful and positive especially considering the amount of people. None of us have ever seen so many people in one place, yet everyone is very polite.”
A college student at Harvard in 2004 when the Red Sox broke their 86-year curse and won the World Series, Scott-Pacheco fondly remembered that celebration and parade in Boston. “There definitely were more people here today,” she said.
More Video: Sabrina Davis reads from a prepared statement in protest of Donald Trump.
The crowd figure she heard repeated was 125,000.
Scott-Pacheco continued, “It has been an educational experience with every possible social issue represented by the signs and speakers. Men and women are about equally represented from every walk of life, from children to elders.”
She and her friends Nadia Rebello and Amy Blanchette of Fall River held colorful signs proclaiming, “Fall River marches for social justice” with the tag line #WhyWeMarch. “My idea was to represent Fall River and the SouthCoast,” she said, proud that others with Fall River ties came up to them.
Her group drove from Fall River to Boston and got there at 9 a.m. for the speaking program scheduled to start at 11. “There was actually no traffic,” she said.
In another photo she shared showing the close likeness of daughter and mother, both smiling broadly in the massive crowd, the mother held up a sign “Honor the Treaties” while Scott-Pacheco’s said, “We the Resilient” next to a woman’s fist.
Scott-Pacheco said one speech that encouraged her most was Attorney General Maura Healey telling the massive crowd she’d stand up to the Trump administration on rolling back essential gains like health care, gay marriage and women’s rights to choose over their pregnancies.
“She would sue the administration for all of us,” Scott-Pacheco repeated, saying it made her hopeful because Massachusetts has been a leader in those areas.
The women’s march was united believing “we don’t want to roll back any social justice progress that we’ve made,” Scott-Pacheco said.
Blanchette, 33, a full-time student at Bristol Community College in Fall River, where she also works, and whose goal is to obtain her Ph.D. and return to BCC to teach English, was also representing a higher education nonprofit called PHENOM.
Blanchette said she and Scott-Pacheco are “both social justice warriors” and as such, “it was just an amazing feeling of 100,000 plus people marching – women, children, all races and sexual orientations, people with disabilities, people in wheelchairs – it was such an empowering and emotional day,” she said. “I was just shocked how many people turned out.”
Also encouraging Blanchette were the news cameras and helicopters everywhere and “people who live along Boston Commons cheering us with their signs and art work. It was just such a sense of camaraderie.”
Rebello, 39, a nurse case manager for a large medical company, is a Girl Scout leader (GSSNE Troop 1002) and the mother of three girls – 5-year-old twins and a 9-year-old.
“She knew I was going to Boston to March,” Rebello said of her oldest daughter, Isabella, whom she called “a huge Hillary supporter.” She added, “I will talk with them later tonight” about the experience.
Rebello described “a sea of people that showed up for many causes. It was extremely peaceful, no rioting, people of all age backgrounds, colors and races came for the same cause of preserving rights.
“Today made a great difference,” she said hopefully.
In concluding, Scott-Pacheco said she did not see President Trump as the prime focus. “Maybe 20 percent,” she said, but his presidency “absolutely” is what brought them together to affirm social justice and human rights, she said.
She laughed at the creative displays to parody Trump for his threatening and offensive behavior. Loads of people were wearing “pink pussy hats” because of the obvious tie-in. “There were a lot of even elderly women, men and children in little pussy hats. Infants in baby carriages were wearing them,” she said.
Scott-Pacheco concluded: “Monday I go back to my job and just keep working to defend elders and low income in our community. I think now more than ever people going to need the help.”
Email Michael Holtzman at email@example.com or call him at 508-676-2573.