Get on the bus

Thousands in western suburbs take red-eye trip to U.S. capital for Women's March on Washington

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Day one of Donald J. Trump's America and women from Oak Park, River Forest, and across the country, are headed to the nation's capital with a mission: Make it clear that they have no intention of returning to the days when women were subservient and unequal to men.

Trump make America great again? Not so much, they say.

The general sense of unease on Friday evening was palpable as women of all ages, and a handful of men, gathered outside of Oak Park-River Forest High School – the same day Trump was sworn in as 45th president of the United States – to catch the bus to Washington, D.C. for the Women's March on Washington. Many could be overheard lamenting the new president's inauguration ceremony, policy proposals and cabinet pics, among a myriad of other topics associated with the controversial figure.

Many had come with friends and colleagues, some brought their daughters, others their husbands.

Several declined to discuss their thoughts on Trump for publication, but the signs and buttons they made – "I will not go quietly back to the 1950s" and "Pussy grabbing: Wait until you're asked!" – and the shirts they wore – "Women's rights are human rights" – told the story.

And, of course, there are the hats.

Pink and floppy and ubiquitous, the women have dubbed them "pussy hats" in response to a quote by then-candidate Trump that surfaced in October, where he was unknowingly recorded in 2005 telling Access Hollywood host Billy Bush how he'd attempted to get a married woman to have sex with him and how he grabs women without their consent.

"You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women] — I just start kissing them," Trump told Bush about a decade before his recent run for the White House. "It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything."

One woman, who waited outside OPRF as the buses fired up, said she acknowledges the peaceful transition of power, but added that under a Trump presidency, women must continue to demand equality.

"I think the election had a lot of impact on women all over the country for a lot of different reasons, and for me this is just an opportunity to recognize the peaceful transition of power and at the same time remind those who are now elected into office that more than half of this country is women," said Debra Baker. "And we're really vigilant about preserving and expanding our rights, not only for ourselves but for what this country is based on, which is equal protection for all, and we want to make sure that is preserved in this new administration the way it has been over the last eight years,"

In the first few hours as the busload of mainly women headed slowly away from Illinois, participants talked and laughed, getting to know the stranger in the seat next to them or catching up with their companions.

At a rest stop about 100 miles east of Toledo, a fleet of buses had stopped, and hundreds of women, and some men, got out to stretch their legs. Many on the buses had come from as far away as Minneapolis and San Francisco.

The demonstrators, many of whom said they were new to attending public protests, will gather Saturday morning at the National Mall, where they will hear from dozens of speakers, including: CNN commentator Van Jones; Roslyn Brock, chairman of the NAACP national board of directors; Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; actress and activist Scarlett Johansson; filmmaker Michael Moore; and feminist writer and activist Gloria Steinem, among others.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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