A few weeks ago, Susan Jackson let out a sigh and plunked herself down on her dining room chair. The retired teacher promised more than 1,000 people that she would write their names on a banner she’s taking to the Women’s March on Washington — but the clock was ticking.
“Well, it started out with 250 names,” she said dryly, waving a hand toward the white banner and pens littering the table in her San Francisco home. “But then it became, oh no, let’s do 400. Then 700. Now we’re at over 1,000.”
The banner Jackson made honors the Suffragettes and is modeled on sashes they wore while fighting for a woman’s right to vote. She posted her idea for the project on Together We Will, a Facebook group made up of progressives, and the response was overwhelming: Within a few short days, Jackson had hundreds of comments from people requesting the addition of their name or the name of one of their ancestors.
“The response was really amazing,” Jackson said. “It’s a lot of work…but I’m proud and happy to do it!”
The election was a devastating blow to Jackson. On Nov. 8, she had been at a comedy club in the Mission District when the results started coming in. She recounted seeing updates on a muted television near the comedy set, watching critical swing states turn red, one by one. When it became clear Trump was headed for a victory, Jackson bolted from her seat.
“I said, I’m sorry. I have to go,” she recalled. “Nothing’s funny anymore.” She remembered running outside crying, wondering why others on the street weren’t weeping too.
Since then, the North Carolina transplant has yet to find a “silver lining” in what she sees as a black cloud hanging over the county for the next four years, but the banner and women’s march helped renew her sense of purpose.
While making the banner, Jackson has admittedly hit a few snags: As a result of trying to accomodate each name, the banner is larger than Jackson had originally intended – it’s easily over five feet long and a foot wide. She also reduced the size of her penmanship as the names accumulated, comically evident in her large handwriting becoming smaller and smaller on the banner, until it's barely legible.
“We’re going to make them fit, one way or another,” she laughed, noting the size discrepancy. “They’re all going on there. I’ve been adding to it almost every day, and I’m checking each name several times to make sure it’s there.”
The names belong to people of different genders, sexual identities and cultural backgrounds, making it a far more inclusive effort than that of the suffragettes, who are often criticized for neglecting women of color in their platform.
“I’m marching for everyone who has been left out," Jackson said, when asked about her inspiration. "I have decided I will never be quiet again. If someone calls me a bad name, I will no longer just duck my head and pretend I didn’t hear it. If someone says something bad about someone I’m with, I will not be silent."
When the march is over, Jackson is planning on mailing the banner to Hillary Clinton. Although the former secretary of state's loss continues to sting, Jackson said she’d like to honor the trailblazer for putting another major crack in a seemingly shatterproof glass ceiling.
"Nasty women keep fighting," Jackson said. "So that's what I'm going to do."