The Moms Clean Air Force message was delivered loud and clear at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., on a day when temperatures unnaturally soared into the 90’s and the Trump Administration decided to thumb its nose at people’s concerns by replacing EPA’s science-based climate change website with an arbitrary ‘being updated’ notice.
Signs at the March indicated exactly how people felt about this state of the world:
“DON’T BE A FOSSIL FOOL” “SAVE THE BEES” “THE SEAS ARE RISING. SO ARE WE!”
Climate activism was on display at this day-long demonstration of people power. Moms Clean Air Force co-sponsored the March and led the “Guardians of the Future” contingent, with founder Dominique Browning, Ronnie Citron-Fink, Molly Rauch, and many more Moms carrying the signature banner down Pennsylvania Avenue as Karen Quimby directed us and the thousands behind us to speed up or slow down. Our “team” included two towering puppets. One, of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, inspired the chant, “Hey, hey, ho ho, Scott Pruitt has got to go!” The second, of Mother Nature, overshadowed Pruitt (as she should), her turquoise blue hair sparkling in the sunlight. When word spread that 375 other marches were happening across the U.S., and more around the world, again the crowd cheered.
The weather offered up a fitting example of why we needed to march. Symbolically, the day’s temperature tied a sweltering heat record for April 29 set in 1974. In fact, the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency issued a hyperthermia alert, citing a heat index of 96 degrees. If this had been August, we’d have shrugged, “No big deal.” But in April? Yes, it’s a big deal.
Moms Clean Air Force massed for the March early, gathering in full view of the Capitol to hand out our signature red “Listen to Your Mother” t-shirts and fill the space with festive bubbles. We were all ages, from newborn babies to high school kids, from young moms and dads to grandmothers. Never ones to let a good organizing opportunity go by, the Moms team asked marchers to sign “Lunch Box Notes” to their members of Congress to remind Senators and Representatives that “Every day, 77,000 kids miss school because of asthma,” “Air pollution makes asthma worse,” and most importantly, “Our children have the right to breathe clean air.”
Long-time climate change activist Leo De Caprio was ahead of us, marching with Indigenous people. Actress, Diane Lane, of “Under the Tuscan Sun” fame, asked if she could march with Moms. When I asked her why, she gushed about how effective Moms Clean Air Force is, and how important our work is to build a broad coalition of parents to stop climate change.
Senator Tom Carper of Delaware dropped by, too. Using a bullhorn to make himself heard, he wasn’t shy in doling out praise for the parents assembled before him. “I love Moms Clean Air Force! Thank you for all you do!” He urged anyone within hearing distance to make the kind of noise their elected officials can’t ignore and remind them “There is no Planet B.”
As the march began rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue, tens of thousands of people moved as if one. “Tell me what democracy looks like” urged someone. “This is what democracy looks like!” we roared back.
There was singing, too. “We shall Overcome” and “This Land is Your Land” made their way from one end of the march to the other, accompanied by drum circles, brass bands, and, yes, a kazoo here and there.
When waves of activists passed the Trump International Hotel, a collective roar swelled up from the crowd. “Shame, shame, shame, shame,” scolded these citizens, who find it appalling that the new president is trying to open up huge swaths of public lands to climate changing-fossil fuel development rather than advance clean energy like solar and wind.
After the march, Dominique sent out a heartfelt note of gratitude to those who shared in the massive success that was the People’s Climate March.
“Huge thanks – For making our presence felt, in D.C. And elsewhere…All the hard work and careful preparations paid off.
“Some day the need for these will stop. I’m not sure I can be an 80 year old marcher. But wow. Hats off to everyone who braved hot streets, or snowy streets–to let Trump know that moms and dads did not vote to make America dirty again!”