Of the countless Trump Resistance actions happening nationwide, the most epic one by far promises to be the January 21 (day after the inauguration) Women’s March in D.C. As of this writing, it has more than 150,000 people “Going” on Facebook, with simultaneous marches planned for cities nationwide.
The event, which was denied its chosen spot in front of the Lincoln Memorial but has since secured a permit to run right alongside the Capitol, was started by a Brooklyn fashion exec named Bob Bland who was within days of giving birth when she hatched the idea.
Bland spoke to Daily Resist about how it all came about, what we can expect (or at least what she can divulge at this point), and why Trump resisters of all gender identities–including cis gay men–should be there.
Bob, you are now one of the organizers of what might end up being one of the biggest marches that D.C. has ever seen. How did this happen?
This was purely social-media driven. I have a group of about 3,000 women who had supported my Nasty Woman Tshirt during the campaign. After the election, we all thought, this is impossible that this happened, that the most qualified person ever to run for president would lose to a reality TV show host with no previous governing experience. Both impossible and also so typical because Hillary just happened to have a vagina between her legs.
…by the Thursday night after the election, we had 125,000 people coming.
So I asked them if we should do a march on Washington during Inauguration Weekend and they said cool, so I started a Facebook event page and invited everyone I knew. Then someone alerted me that a grandmother in Hawaii named Teresa Shook had the same idea and had just sent an invite to 40 of her friends. I contacted her right away and said, “We really need to combine forces,” which we did with some other women, none of us knowing each other except over social media.
And by the Thursday night after the election, we had 125,000 people coming. And none of us who started it are professional organizers–we’re a lawyer, yoga teacher, fashion executive, pastry chef, with two of us in New York, one in Hawaii, one in South Carolina and the other in Tennessee.
And then what happened?
We’d have been happy if a few hundred of us met in D.C., but once it got the big reaction it did, we started hearing that people wanted women of color to be centered as leaders. So now the cochairs along with me are Tamika Mallory, the former head of the National Action Network; Carmen Perez of The Gathering for Justice and Linda Sarsour, the head of the Arab-American Association of NY. (Watch video below.)
What is the message or the mission of the march?
The initial message is that if we bring together all these marginalized populations that are truly scared of the implications of this election, we’ll ensure that we cannot be silent, that our voices will be heard together and we’ll fight to keep anyone’s rights from being rolled back.
we’ll ensure that we cannot be silent, that our voices will be heard together and we’ll fight to keep anyone’s rights from being rolled back.
We’re still developing our policy platform. But the most important thing for us right now is to facilitate a successful march. There’s enormous logistics to getting hundreds of thousands of people to D.C. from all over the country, then making sure everyone is safe and has Porta-Potties, then getting all the permits. We have to concentrate on that right now. About three dozen of us are working on this full-time right now.
How will the day unfold?
Some official announcements will be happening very soon, but I’d say we have a lot of great partners and a very robust rally happening before the march with speakers and entertainment, an incredibly diverse range of talent that will really help everyone get excited about march. The exact march route has not been entirely confirmed, but it’s going to be very beautiful and historic and meaningful.
There’s been a lot of news about how Trump is having a hard time booking A-list talent for the inauguration. Might we see some of that talent at the Women’s March instead?
The inauguration is the day before the march, so I wouldn’t associate them directly. But I can speak to the enormous amount of interest in performing at the Women’s March that has been expressed from an incredible range of well-known talent. I’m sorry I can’t say more at this point. I’m hoping we’ll announce very soon.
And you were within days of giving birth when you started organizing this?
This movement is only two weeks older than my daughter. I was literally having some very serious meetings about it while I was in labor in the hospital.
Let’s just clear the record: Those who identify as men are welcome too?
Every time I get an email from a man asking whether he’s welcome, it breaks my heart. We’ve tried to make it so clear that although this is a woman-centered march with women in leadership roles, we welcome people of all forms of gender expression.
I just read that since Trump was elected, more than 4,500 women have registered to run for office.
Some people are saying right now, What’s the point of all these marches? What would you say to that?
Because of this march, people are meeting one another who’d never have met otherwise. They’re having the hard conversations that we should have been having for years. It’s causing people who’d otherwise be sitting behind their computer to converge.
And it’s creating leaders. We have state coordinators who never thought about being activists and now they’re considering running for office, joining their community board, aiming to improve things from the local level up. I just read that since Trump was elected, more than 4,500 women have registered to run for office.
Towleroad has a lot of cis gay male readers. Final Devil’s advocate question: Why should they come to the Women’s March?
Two words: Mike Pence. Gay men are as likely as anyone to have their rights rolled back by this administration. Look at the cabinet Trump is putting together. Their views are very much at odds with LGBT rights. That alone should be enough reason to march. But if we all march in solidarity, everyone who attends will come away emboldened and empowered and say, “Okay, this is just the beginning.”
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