Posted by: Brad Nixon | January 22, 2017

Signifying: Signs of the Times at the Women’s March L.A.

Public demonstrations throughout the modern era have featured flags, signs and banners carried by the participants. Photographs from those events represent some of the most iconic images in history, associated with women’s suffrage, the abolition of slavery, the prohibition of alcohol, anti-war/pro-war protests, among others.

Now that nearly every human being carries a camera, typically one capable of sending images instantaneously across the world, signs have proliferated as means of communicating the message of demonstrators.

That reality has never been more in evidence than in the aftermath of the recent U.S. presidential election.

On January 21, 2017, there were hundreds of demonstrations around the world, inspired by an initial plan to hold The Women’s March in Washington, D.C. on the day following the inauguration of the new president.

A groundswell of support for the idea resulted in the organization of marches in numerous locations. If you’ve seen the news in the past 24 hours, you must certainly have seen coverage of at least the largest ones, beginning with the one in Washington, which attracted more than 500,000 people. Most major U.S. cities and an incalculable number of smaller cities and towns hosted sister events with participation ranging from hundreds or thousands of people to huge turnouts in L.A., New York, Boston, Chicago, Austin, Seattle and other cities, not to mention Paris, London, Toronto, Vancouver and other cities outside the U.S.

The Counselor and I marched in Los Angeles. Estimates of the number of people who took part are in the range of 450,000-500,000* (event organizers proposed a much higher figure, which may be inaccurate. See note below). I assure you it was a staggeringly vast number of people, filling every street within at least 28 square city blocks.

Yes, there were signs.

Womens March LA Brad Nixon 5837 (640x480)

There were professionally printed and hand-made signs sporting a panoply of slogans: half a million people carrying thousands of signs. The subjects covered the entire range of human concern: women’s rights, health, education, freedom of speech, immigration, the environment and scores more.

Womens March LA Marcy Vincent 5723 (640x480)

Last November, the sign from the first day of post-election demonstrations that struck me most memorably was one held by a young woman in the Bay Area of California reading, “Are We Awake Yet?” That sign went viral, and the meme was on display today in L.A.

Womens March LA Brad Nixon 5870 (640x480)

Today’s events indicate that many people are, indeed, awake. I was gratified to see more than one sign representing a quotation by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which I featured in a blog post about the Compton Civic Plaza just a few days ago.

Womens March LA Brad Nixon 5842 (640x480)

To see a tiny sample of the thousands of signs from today, click on the photos below to enlarge and page through them:

Many of you are from outside the United States. I encountered a marcher today with a message intended for you.

Womens March LA Brad Nixon 5874 (640x535)

I’m pleased to acknowledge more than a million fellow humans who participated worldwide, and the unknowable number of law enforcement, safety, transit and infrastructure workers who helped make these compelling, peaceful demonstrations a success.

See others in my “Signifying” series under “Media: Signifying” in Categories in the right-hand column.

BBC.com has excellent photos from demonstrations large and small around the world, including Antarctica.

Slate.com has a selection of signs (some echoing ones we saw in L.A.) from today’s demonstrations across the globe.

*Update, Jan. 24, 2017. The site fivethirtyeight.com has made an analysis of a variety of sources reporting crowd sizes for some of the events on 1/21/17. In Los Angeles, as in many cities, the larger-than-expected crowds spread over a large area and was difficult to estimate. Fivethirtyeight.com estimates 450,000.

© Brad Nixon 2017. Some photos © Marcy Vincent 2017, used by kind permission.

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Responses

  1. Looks like remnants from the JFK era!

    Like

  2. He can run, but he can’t hide. The world is watching.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent selection, great crowd. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice being able to experience the LA Women’s March though your post. The crowd looks amazing. The crowd in NY was estimated at 100,000 but the crowds kept coming and the mayors office says we had over 400,000. It was amazing when took over the streets here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s unlikely that the true numbers can be calculated. As in NYC — LA, Chicago, Seattle and hundreds of other locations (including an amazing number of small towns that won’t hit the radar) — the people “just kept coming,” far exceeding expectations (or the ability to number them). Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person


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