Jonathan Berman, the national co-chair of the March for Science, said his hopes for the day of the march were that it wouldn’t rain and that lots of people would show up. He got one of those wishes.
When we turned up to the National Mall in Washington, DC on Earth Day, we joined thousands of people gathering for a rally, a teach-in, and a march. The crowds streamed in through the gates for hours, standing in lines several city blocks long by midday.
The morning was devoted to talks from a lineup of speakers, which included scientists, science communicators – including Bill Nye and Michael Mann – and young students aspiring to become an astronaut, an engineer, and a clean energy researcher.
In the crowd, the feeling was jubilant and reverent. Cheers went up at the images of famous scientific pioneers and at every mention of a field of science from the podium. During a video showing images of the earth from space, rally-goers silently lifted their signs like lighters at a rock concert.
In fact, if it weren’t for the protest signs, you might think you were at a music festival. Jon Batiste, the bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, gave people something to dance to with funk, soul, and jazz music between speakers.
Questlove, the leader of The Roots, acted as emcee for part of the rally and spoke of his own support of science: “We need to make sure science belongs to the people. It should be out in the open.”
He wasn’t the only representative of the arts. As part of a teach-in co-hosted by the Earth Day Network, the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University had a tent where people could make blackout poetry from scientific texts