Editor’s Note: Liza Donnelly is an award-winning cartoonist for The New Yorker and writer whose book “Women On Men” was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor and whose history of women cartoonists, “Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Women Cartoonists and Their Cartoons,” is considered a resource for historians. She has curated and been in numerous exhibitions around the world, and is vice president of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists. Follow her @LizaDonnelly. The views expressed here are solely hers. View more opinion articles on CNN.
The 2019 Women’s March in Washington DC felt like a party with a purpose. I took the train down from New York for the day to live-draw the events, the third such march I have drawn in the last three years.
What I witnessed was a group of passionate attendees with many different reasons for being there: to build camaraderie, to express anger, to take action and to mend broken fences. All of these objectives were loosely connected by the theme of equality.
The real theme, however, became clear early in the day when the loudspeaker played Aretha Franklin singing “Respect.” The crowd erupted into dance and song. It appeared to be the day’s anthem. All there were looking for respect for women.
The party was also a friendly one. When I had to squeeze through a crowded area (which I had to do numerous times), I was greeted with, “Oh, sorry!” It was a crowd of mostly women, after all.
However, the good cheer was peppered with elements of fury: Some signs were so vulgar I was concerned for the few children I saw in attendance. There was also a tone of ‘Be angry! No more playing nice! Don’t wait for what we want!’”
There were signs that spoke to the controversy that has followed this march in recent months, addressing the need to work together as a broad coalition of different races, religions, sexual preferences and gender identities. I witnessed care, concern and a feeling of an urgent need to love one another. With passion, seriousness and humor, the struggles of this movement were faced head on.
I saw fewer pink hats, but there were many more signs than previous years (and they seemed less funny) – as if people had a need to be heard as well as seen. Simply attending the march was not enough.
After spending the day drawing people, signs and speakers, I felt as if I were watching something bigger than just one gathering in Washington, one of many marches staged around the world.
It’s clear that the Women’s March is both a global movement and a local movement. In each city around the world, activists are working within their own communities to bring about equality and respect for women.