Politics & Government

Law Man Marching: A Protest Trek With Bill Holston

One man's perspective of the Dallas women's march.

Photo by Alex Macon
Photo by Alex Macon

I was unable to do my usual hike with Ben Sandifer and crew on Saturday. My wife Jill and I decided to do the Women’s March in Dallas, which was organized by my new state representative Victoria Neave, with the assistance of many other groups. Why did I march? This is what I wrote on my Facebook page:

This morning Jill and I march. No, we are not “whining” about an election. President Trump is our president. I don’t like it, detest it even, but I accept the reality of it, and even celebrate the peaceful transition of government. I march to make a public display about the rights of vulnerable people. These include women protected by the Violence Against Women Act, immigrant women held in detention, Muslim women, trans women, and all women whose rights HAVE been threatened already.

Today this OLD WHITE CHRISTIAN man stands up.

Join us.

Hi, I’m Bill, and I’m an old white man. I don’t feel guilty about that. I worked very hard in my life to get where I am, but I am not blind to the privilege that permitted me to get here. I went to segregated private high schools and worked in jobs that no black man had ever held. My law school class had zero black students. It is no comment on my own achievement to acknowledge the advantages I received because of my race and gender. And these compel me to speak up for inequities that still exist. Also, I love the women in my life and want to support them.

So I drove downtown and met with some friends as well as some of the women on my staff. I’m really fortunate to lead a staff of great women. One of our staff members took her two daughters to the march to add their voices. Our intrepid group parked off of Swiss and walked over to City Hall. Along the way, we started walking along with others. As we crossed Marilla, the crowd stretched as far as we could see. And that’s when I started running into people I knew. I saw local nonprofit leader Karen Blessen and her lovely husband Kelly Nash. We hugged and smiled. Then I saw my law school classmate and SMU professor and all-around badass woman Maureen Armour. My wife ran into someone she teaches school with, there with her parents. Then I ran into my long-time hiking buddy Scott Hudson and his beautiful wife Jimmie, a local artist. We walked with them for much of the march. Along the way, I saw publishing genius Will Evans and his beautiful wife.

I ran into several people from my church, Greenland Hills United Methodist. One of them commented on how fortunate it was that this march was only planned in a week. There were very few manufactured signs. Estimates are that there were 8,000 to 10,000 people marching. It had a wonderful grass-roots feel to it. I found out about the march from a Facebook post.

Most of the signage was handmade poster board, and there were some great ones. The signs addressed a wide array of issues: climate change, immigrant rights, reproductive rights, rights for LBGT people, civil rights, and voting rights.

There were quite a few of Shepard Fairey’s iconic poster art. But the signs I really liked were promoting much more general ideas like:

“Make America Kind Again.”

“Dissent is the Highest Form of Patriotism’

‘Won’t make America Hate Again’

“I stand with Refugee women.’

“Women are Perfect.’

“Men of Quality don’t fear Equality”

And my favorite:

“When they go Low, We go High, Michelle Obama.”

There were lots of anti-Trump posters and references to his famous hairstyle as well. But the theme was broader, more a celebration of diversity and a call for the protection of rights. Along the way, there were a few attempts at chants:

“Women united will never be divided.”

“This is what democracy looks like.”

But mostly people walked and got to know their neighbors. One of the first people I saw was carrying a Venezuelan Flag. We currently have a lot of Venezuelan asylum seeker clients at Human Rights Initiative, and I was struck with the idea that it would be quite dangerous to attempt a march like this in Venezuela at the moment. I don’t take the right to peacefully protest for granted. I marched with a friend who came to the United States as an Ethiopian refugee. She said the last time she marched was in Ethiopia. That can get you shot. I have had many clients over the years jailed and tortured for what we did Saturday. So, for me, marching is a patriotic act and one with a lot of joy and gratitude for the rights enshrined in our constitution.

It was a relatively diverse crowd. I marched alongside several African-Americans as well as Latin groups. There were tons of children and babies. I saw one older woman walking with an umbrella as a cane. I thought, I hope I’m doing this when I’m her age (which is looming).

We ended the march and we were still far back in the crowd, so I didn’t hear any of the speeches. But that didn’t matter. I got to add my voice with so many of my neighbors’. Mostly I was struck by just how positive and uplifting the event was. Jill and I went out to lunch afterward with our son Fred. We all talked about how proud we were of our city. Later that afternoon, I was driving down to the Trinity River Audubon Center. I plugged in the iPhone and sang along with the Black Keys: ‘Baby, I was howling for YOU!”

What’s next? Well, there’s this for ideas. And, of course, you could financially support or volunteer for groups you support. Melissa, the director of our women’s and children’s program, brought her daughters. I asked her what her oldest daughter, Rebecca, thought, and she said, “Rebecca said, ‘It was like the Fourth of July — but better.’ ”

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Comments

  • “Dissent is the Highest Form of Patriotism’

    Funny, for the last eight years, it’s been racism.

    “When they go Low, We go High, Michelle Obama.”

    In a crowd of people wearing representations of their genitalia on their heads.

  • C Newman

    An amazing celebration of democracy. The more people get involved and make their voices heard and get conversations going about those specific rights or issues they care about the better. Talk more to those you meet at these events and hear some amazing stories. Just as important if not more so, talk more to those that aren’t marching alongside you but with those that aren’t marching or might even marching the other way as you see it to find out their stories and why they have a differing viewpoint. Love that there are so many ways in our country to make your individual voice and views heard and come together to attempt changes to make it even better. Democracy is awesome.

  • DubiousBrother

    “One of them commented on how fortunate it was that this march was only planned in a week.” Probably the week after the election.
    http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewsubcategory.asp?id=1237

    • JamieT

      Despite all the pious, soft-core racism about “We sighted an Afro-American – and a painted bunting!”, only a narrow slice of the population had the luxury of throwing a consolation selfie parade for their psyches and an opportunistic look-at-me! the day AFTER the very last most moment in our REAL grand exercise in democracy. The rest had to raise their children, tend to their elderly, go to work – on Saturday! Who does that? – manning the fry station, the cash register, restocking the cereal aisle, walking the second job security beat, or the hospital nursing round.

      This so-called, fraudulently named “women’s march”, representing instead every resentful Democratic Party micro-grievance under the sun, was nothing of the sort, was instead nothing more than a passive-aggressive, post-traumatic Trump election primal scream for the infantile unable to accept personal responsibility for the failure of their political choices. The vast majority of women nationally and world wide neither wanted anything nor had anything to do with it, and it marches on only as click-bait here on TrumpBurner and other similar Pacific island redoubts.

  • Mavdog

    Thank you for the first person account Bill, and thank you for the positive input on the meaning of the march.

    The diverse assembly of marchers show a concern among many that individual civil liberties are not being respected. Their participation in events such as this will hopefully prove to ensure those rights are respected and preserved.

  • JamieT

    How the rest of the species saw it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghVSZNYPXtw

  • JamieT

    This psychotic rant from Ashley Judd is what the Dallas marchers – and
    Bill Holston – marched “in solidarity” with. You pays your in solidarity
    money and you takes your in solidarity chances.

    Or maybe not.
    Maybe every participant just gets to make up their own rules for in
    solidaritating. Maybe the whole event was instead just a superficial
    collection of an enormous, across the board zoo of random, personal
    needs to seek out meaning and attention – in Austin, the women went
    topless, after all – and the only unified conclusion we can draw from it
    is that any municipal dollars spent on it in any city anywhere are now
    no longer available for other, more important ends – like, oh, say, REAL
    services for women.

    But Bill Holston managed to score a nice,
    virtue-preening advertisement for himself and his law practice out of
    it, so it can’t have been a total loss.

    • bill holston

      thanks for reading JamieT.