Amid occasional whiny howls of “I’m coooold!” about 150 children and their parents gathered outside the Trump hotel in Washington on Saturday to tout lessons that they said President-elect Donald Trump needs to hear: Be nice. Tell the truth. Keep your hands to yourself.
“Don’t be a bully,” one pint-size protester’s sign read. “Use kind words like ‘please’ and ‘sorry,’ ” said another. One mother’s sign: “Nasty women raise kind children.”
Many parents said they brought their families to the Children’s Rally for Kindness because they still feel disheartened by Trump’s victory. Others said they wanted to introduce their children to political activism.
“We wanted to try to do something positive,” said Christine Sylvest, 38, of Rockville, as her 4-year-old son ducked behind her leg with a sparkly “Be nice” sign.
Wiping away tears, she added: “When Trump was elected, it was the opposite of everything we value. Xenophobia, racism, misogyny — all those things seemed to be legitimized by his election. It’s painful and daunting to think those things are going to be legitimized for the next four years.”
As political protests go, the rally had a remarkably high cute quotient. Where else would chubby-cheeked activists sport animal-eared hats, conk out mid-message for their morning nap, and sing “This Little Light of Mine”?
“People should spread kindness instead of hate because hate just turns people against each other,” said 10-year-old Lucia Hill, as she bounced up and down against a 25-degree wind chill.
Trump, she said, “says things about people who are different, and a lot of those things affect my friends. My friend is Muslim, and a lot of my friends come from different countries. I’m worried about them because they’re sad that someone like that would be elected.”
Leda Pelton, 9, didn’t want to talk about the presidential election, saying, “It just makes me sad.” But she said she’s worried that Trump won’t protect the environment.
“There are so many animals going extinct,” the fourth-grader said. “This is where we live. We have to take care of it.”
The group was organized via Facebook by the Tacoma Parents Action Coalition and Progressive Parents on the Hill. Organizers urged the crowd to tweet messages to Trump saying that, to them, kindness means supporting public schools, paying a living wage, honoring civil rights and protecting the environment.
Organizer Mandie Worsley said that she and other parents were particularly upset that the election campaign had been so divisive — and that their young children had felt it. She said her 5-year-old daughter had wanted to know why “the person who says mean things” won.
“We’re trying to set out a vision of America that we want to raise our kids in,” said Worsley, 34, who lives in the District. “That’s in stark contrast to the America that Donald Trump is creating.”