A day of marches - for women, resistance and self-determination

Thousands more march in sister protests in Philly, Doylestown and elsewhere

Camden women fill a bus headed to Washington D.C. Saturday morning, to take part in a planned Women's March on Washington.

WASHINGTON - For miles, it seemed, Muslim businesswoman Misha Alkiyal carried a sign high above her head through the jam-packed city streets.

"ISIS claims responsibility for Donald Trump," it said.

For a while, the 49-year-old Cherry Hill resident looked like the most popular woman in the city, as person after person stopped to photograph her and her sign. But near the end of the rally, a man seemed to go out of his way to knock roughly into her - and kept on walking even when she called after him.

It was a little unsettling, the intent unclear - but in a way consistent with the concern that drove her all the way to Washington.

"There's so much fear in the Muslim communities, and among minorities," she said. "The silver lining is unity, and we're going to pay attention and stand up for what is right."

She arrived in the capital on a charter bus filled with 50-some friends and relatives, all determined to stand strong and speak out.

Dozens of buses departed in the early-morning darkness from points across the Philadelphia region Saturday, carrying thousands to the Women's March on Washington.

There they joined hundreds of thousands of protesters from across the nation, a crowd so large that organizers feared they could not lead a formal trek toward the White House.

But march they did.

Along Constitution Avenue it was hard to see anything but shoulders and signs. "Cell is down, Facebook is down," a man lamented.

"Welcome to old-fashioned marching," a woman replied, "where all you do is march."

Women's marches in Philly and Washington: Our live blog replay.

The crowd was huge and enthusiastic on a day of broad smiles, loud voices, set jaws, and a few tears - a day where pink was the color on baseball caps and "pussy hats," signs, shirts, and hair bands.

Most marchers were women, of course, but there were plenty of men.

Eddie Heintz traveled alone to the National Mall - on a bus of strangers who didn't take long to become friends. He had signed up solo, he said, buying a seat on a bus out of Jenkintown after reflecting on both his Buddhist religion and the direction of his country.

"Being somebody who practices love and compassion, and opening up my heart, I felt a need to stand up," said the 49-year-old Horsham printer.

The crowd brandished signs with slogans such as "We Shall OVA Come," and "A Woman's Place Is in the Revolution" and decried newly elected President Trump's stand on such issues as abortion, health care, gay rights, diversity, and climate change.

Their message reverberated at demonstrations around the globe, from New York to Los Angeles, from London to Prague to Sydney and beyond.

Alicia Keys sang "Girl on Fire" for the Washington crowd. Madonna and Michael Moore spoke. Cher said Trump's ascendance has people "more frightened maybe than they've ever been."

In Park City, Utah, Charlize Theron led demonstrators in a chant of "Love, not hate, makes America great." In New York, actresses Helen Mirren and Cynthia Nixon and Whoopi Goldberg joined protesters marching to Trump's local home.

Becky and Paul Tkacs of Willow Grove said they were marching for their 2-year-old daughter, and their belief that, suddenly, some American voices might not be heard in the White House.

"I wanted to stand up with other women - and men," Becky Tkacs said.

Tara Logan, 33, of Ambler, said she was marching as a way of speaking up, to say to the new administration, "We are here. Please consider us when you're making these decisions."

Could the march make a difference?

"I think it will make a statement," she said.

March leaders had insisted the demonstration is not anti-Trump, even though many of its causes fit a Democratic Party agenda and an antiabortion group was ousted.

A "guiding vision" issued by the organizers stated that the goal is a women-led movement that includes all genders, races, and political affiliations to "affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination."

They seek freedom from violence, accountability for police brutality, access to safe and legal abortion and birth control, and rights and protections for gays, among other causes and calls, organizers said.

But apparently not every woman was welcome. An antiabortion group, New Wave Feminists, initially was included among the scores of official march partners, then expelled last week after multiple complaints.

"We regret the error," march leaders posted on Twitter.

Jen Motto, a 47-year-old geriatric pharmacist who lives in East Greenville, Montgomery County, is a longtime Republican who ended up campaigning for Hillary Clinton - and planned to march in Washington.

Being around the long-term-care industry, she said, she saw many nursing aides, often single mothers, working double shifts or second jobs just to pay their bills.

"The money rises to the top and the little people get left behind," she said. "I have a really good life, so when somebody says you might have to pay more taxes so someone can have health care? I'm OK with that."

Rosa Esquenazi-Broid expected to be at the Philadelphia march, but her art went to Washington. The graphic designer sent six large, Statue of Liberty-like paper torches with friends, who carried them during the march.

As an immigrant - she came here from Mexico more than 30 years ago - the promise of the Statue of Liberty means a lot to her. The message of the Trump campaign, she said, was the opposite.

"Grouping Muslims, and handicapped people, and Mexicans, and characterizing them in a demeaning way - it's not who I am, and it's not what I expect of the country that allowed me to come in and that I chose to adopt," said Esquenazi-Broid, 57, who lives in Philadelphia. "I want to send a message of inclusion."

jgammage@phillynews.com

215-854-4906@JeffGammage

The Associated Press contributed to this article