A recent addition to my children’s bookshelves is Shane W. Evans’s We March, a sparsely worded but powerful picture book about the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. On August 28, 1963, more than a quarter of a million people marched from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. implored the American people to allow freedom to ring throughout the country. (For the full text of Dr. King’s speech, see here – PDF).
The 1963 March on Washington was an important moment of the Civil Rights Movement that ushered in major legislation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These laws have indelibly improved our country for millions of Americans, despite the backlash that continues to hamper its enforcement today, more than half a century later. (See my comments on Lillian’s Right to Vote, a picture book by Jonah Winter & Shane W. Evans).
We March is an ideal book for early readers like my six-year-old daughter, who proudly reads the handful of words on each page and then focuses on the bold illustrations. The book reminds her of when she marched in our local Women’s March on January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Since then, we’ve participated in a handful of public demonstrations, but not many, and not in a while. I still make phone calls to my elected representatives, but not as many as I did in the early days of Trump’s Administration. It’s difficult to maintain the stamina I had in the first few weeks—it’s emotionally and physically exhausting—but that doesn’t mean I’ve started to accept this man as President or that I’ve started to tolerate the modern Republican Party’s heartless agenda on the state or national levels.
With every attempt to suppress voters (such as Ohio’s effort before the U.S. Supreme Court), every reiteration of Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim Travel Ban, every mean-spirited version of TrumpCare (the ACHA or the BCRA), every attempt to strip our right to enforce civil rights laws through litigation (Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s HR 985), and every roll back of our environmental protection policies, my disdain for Donald Trump and the GOP at every level of government intensifies. With every acquittal or mistrial of police officers who kill men for being black and mistrial of men who drug women to sexually assault them, my disillusionment with our system deepens.
These are the issues I think about when I vote for lawmakers or judges. These are the issues I think about every day, whenever I have a moment free of life’s obligations, such as when I’m writing or gardening.
Gardening is not a distraction from the news. It’s a reaction to it. It’s an act of resistance my daughters dreamed up in the dark days after Trump’s electoral victory, when they wanted to know what two third graders and a kindergartener could do in response to Trump’s unconscionable win. One of their fears was about Trump’s impact on the environment, so we planned a butterfly garden, expanding two beds we started in 2015 by focusing on planting pollinator-friendly flowers.
The garden is rejuvenating and exciting, but it’s a work-in-progress, as all gardens are. We have some annuals, like zinnias, but most of our plants are young perennials that need a few more years to reach their full potential. Our monardas, for example, are still small and lonely, “bee balms” that bees don’t seem to like as much as I thought they would. But we’ll see what happens as the plants grow.
Gardens are a practice in patience. Change takes time, a lesson I need to remember when I look at our bleak political landscape.
*Top to Bottom: Lavender & sedum, Monarda, Agastache/Hyssop, Zinnia, & Milkweed