Amid Controversy and Tension, Some Cities Are Pulling Out of Women’s March 2019
It has been nearly two years since the first Women’s March, a spectacular political demonstration that saw millions of people (mostly women) protesting the inauguration of President Donald Trump all over the world. The idea for a women’s rally was originally conceived of in Pantsuit Nation, a wildly popular Facebook group for supporters of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. By the time of Trump’s inauguration, the initiative had evolved into Women’s March Inc., a political not-for-profit group that continues to spearhead annual marches around the world.
But after two international marches and a liberal voter drive leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, the organization seems to be losing some steam. As the date of the third annual January march approaches, some states are pulling out of the Women’s March altogether.
The organization’s leadership has lately been rocked with accusations of anti-Semitism, primarily stemming from national organizer Tamika Mallory’s affiliation with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the right-wing and virulently anti-Semitic group Nation of Islam. Some Women’s March organizers and devotees, including an original founder of the march, Teresa Shook, called on the national leadership to step down amid the internal debate about Farrakhan and anti-Semitism.
The Baton Rouge chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) announced December 29 that it would be canceling its planned New Orleans march this year. In a Facebook post, NOW Baton Rouge said that the controversy (presumably over Women’s March Inc. and the Nation of Islam) had made it difficult for them to successfully organize. The post also expressed disappointment that national leadership had not stepped down.
The Washington Post reports that organizers in Eureka, California, have also decided to cancel this year’s January 19 march because they are worried participants will be “overwhelmingly white.” The Post notes that the Eureka organizers do not appear to be officially affiliated with Women’s March Inc. However, it has been common in recent years for both official and unofficial “sister marches” to take place in conjunction with marches and demonstrations planned by national Women’s March leadership. Instead of sticking with the plan to participate in a sister march later this month, the Eureka group’s Facebook page indicates it will try to plan something for International Women’s Day, or an event in support of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Organizers in Chicago, meanwhile, decided not to plan a march for this year at all. Chicago turned out large numbers for the first and second annual Women’s March, but this year, the group, which is not affiliated formally with Women’s March Inc., will hold a “day of action” rather than a march, according to the local CBS affiliate. Chicago march organizer Harlene Ellin told CBS 2 that another large march after midterm events just wouldn’t be possible right now, especially from a fundraising perspective, but promised the group will “march again” in the future.
Even before recent controversy and post-midterms entropy, tension with national leadership led some state and community-level organizers to break off from Women’s March Inc. into their own networks. In January 2018, a coalition of women that included some 2017 Women’s March leaders announced the creation of their own organization called March On. March On organizers also created a Super PAC they hoped to use to fund liberal candidates who are friendly to women’s issues.
For now, the national Women’s March in Washington, DC, is still on for January 19, and plenty of other cities are also planning to march that day, with or without official ties to Women’s March Inc. A full map of Women’s March Inc.-affiliated sister marches is listed on the website, with events still planned across the country and select cities around the world.
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(Images via Theo Wargo / Getty Images + Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)