On January 21 2017, the morning after Donald Trump took office, the four female organizers of the Women’s March galvanized 1.2million people in Washington and some four million beyond (including in Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Oslo and Sydney) in the largest single-day protest ever seen, its urgency and cry for women’s rights felt the world over. Prompted by an electoral campaign marked by its incendiary slights against women and minorities, the march was organized at lightning speed by ethical fashion designer Bob Bland; Carmen Perez, a juvenile justice activist of 20 years (and co-founder of the NY Justice League); civil rights and gun-control activist Tamika Mallory; and Palestinian-American political activist (and former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York) Linda Sarsour. The Women’s March took place without resulting in a single arrest, unlike the inauguration day protests the day before – a fact attributed to a triumph of civility. Its goals were clear, foregrounding not one but an array of issues including reproductive justice, equal pay, healthcare, immigration, xenophobia, Black Lives Matter, mass incarceration and LGBTQIA+.
To our fellow women marchers,
As we planned the Women’s March, many people doubted our ability as women to organize and mobilize such a major event. We were constantly undermined and questioned. Many people underestimated what became one of our most powerful tools – our ability, as diverse women, to understand the connected nature of our struggles.
Women and our allies came out to march for all different reasons. What we all saw on January 21 was that the things that separated us were trivial compared to our mutual desire to be counted as those who believe in a world that is equitable, just and safe for all. The message, on day one of the new administration, was clear: we have to love and protect each other, seek to understand each other and stand up for each other.
Six months later, we’ve continued to see that collectively we have the power to make our voices heard together and hold our leadership accountable. Over the past six months, we’ve seen white women take to the streets of Washington, D.C. to demand justice on behalf of Philando Castile and we’ve seen black women rush to airports across the country to protest the Muslim ban. We’ve seen more women deciding to run for office than ever before.
However, we’ve continued to get attacks on all sides and the most marginalized among us remain unsafe. We continue to face racist, sexist and misogynistic rhetoric and policies that attempt to divide our movement and harm us.
But our movement, and movements before us, have seen these tactics before. It will not stop us. We will continue to listen to each other, empathize with each other, and stand up for each other. That is the power of this movement.
We’ve come a long way but we have much further to go.
Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour
Women’s March co-presidents
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