Tears filled my eyes. The anger and despair I have been feeling began to lift as I walked through the crowd of over 1500 sign-wavers hooting and hollering. Drivers cruised by tooting their horns, waving, and giving the shaka “hang-loose” sign. The demonstrators were framed by a rock wall of lava boulders with the message: “Aloha, Welcome to Kauai.”
As in other women’s marches across the country on January 21, the messages of demonstrators in Kauai varied widely. “Now You’ve Pissed Off Grandma” was a favorite because I am also a pissed off grandma! Appropriately, the Women’s March on Washington was started when a grandmother from Hana, Maui, Hawaii expressed her frustration over Trump’s election with a Facebook post suggesting we should march on Washington.
The most startling poster, also carried by an older woman, said simply, “I am afraid.” When asked about the sign, she happily confided that she is not afraid now that she sees all the people. I wish I had thought to tell her that I also feel fear — a lump in my belly — when I awake to the reality of the man who is our new president. It’s terrifying for me to hear the President of the United States and his staff tell outright lies and describe them as “alternative facts.” I do not trust him in any way and fear that he is trying to destroy our democratic government.
As a woman who grew into adulthood in the early days of “women’s lib,” I was heartened to see a young woman’s sign — “We will not go quietly back to the 1950’s” — as well as signs supporting Planned Parenthood, Inclusion, Immigrants, Love, Equality, and the Spirit of Aloha. The “Aloha Spirit,” written into Hawaii state law, recognizes that “each person is important to every other person for collective existence.” Aloha embodies kindness, unity, humility, and patience. The positive message of the Hawaii marches is to bring “aloha to a country divided.”
Later, watching the news coverage of the marches, I heard people talking about this day as the beginning of a new era of political involvement and action. The organizers of the Kauai event were clearly thinking ahead. They collected the names and contact information of over 1500 people. The first person I encountered when I arrived was a woman from Indivisible recruiting for their local group.
In Hawaii, the future for activism looks very positive. Hawaii is a culturally diverse and fairly liberal state. Most of the elected officials are Democrats. But even the Republican Minority Leader of the Hawaii House of Representative, a millennial, Beth Fukumoto, stands for strength in diversity, affordable housing, and taking care of everyday people. And by the way, she also marched in Honolulu on January 21st.
Julie Davis is a retired teacher who lives in Walnut Creek, California and is an Admin at TWW Contra Costa. When she realized she would be in Kauai, Hawaii during the March on Washington, she searched Facebook for a sister march in Kauai. She found one posted by Emily, who pictured a “Love Trumps Hate” sign. Three people were interested in the event at the time. Emily and Julie were overjoyed to meet in person at the event where 1500 people showed up. Julie’s account of the Kauai march follows