Equality March Shows What Grassroots Can Do

Without even one cable news outlet promoting the event and even without Glenn Beck--even without corporate lobbyists sending in activists by the thousands, and corporate advertisers publicizing it--the National Equality March on the D.C. mall on October 11 drew one hell of a crowd.

If for-profit media had given each equality marcher the air time dedicated to the 60,000 or so teabaggers that came to D.C. a month ago, they'd still be hogging the airwaves, dawn to dusk. Most reports estimate October 11's turnout at between 100 and 200,000. The DC Fire Department put the September 12 crowd at 60-70,000, max.

If we had seen commensurate coverage, we might have learned that October 11's march was organized by locally-focused, nationally-connected activists representing every race, class and faith. Everyone keeps calling it a gay rights march, but that was not actually its name.

The National Equality March was named as it was for a reason. Organizers see themselves as part of something larger.

Said one speaker after another: We want Justice but not just for us.

Equal Protection. Equal Rights. We need to add Equal Coverage.

If we'd seen it on the news, we might have learned that the Equality March wasn't called by the big established DC organizations: it was pushed by the fringe, and the youth, and the not-established-yet. Decentralized organizers, with a close eye on Congress, and an agenda that's national, local, and still has time for state-based stuff? Fancy that. It seems like the kind of structure that could change politics. Imagine what we'd learn, given half a chance.