What started as a post-election Facebook entry by Hawaiian grandmother and retired attorney Teresa Shook musing on what might happen if women showed up en mass for the inauguration, has turned into a professionally organized event still gaining traction.
The Women’s March on Washington is expected to draw 166,000 attendees, says a Facebook page, with 254,000 more expressing interest.
Local Carrie Reynolds is helping organize a trip to D.C. from Laguna Beach and knows at least 17 who have signed on.
Reynolds did not see herself as an activist before the Nov. 8 election. She intends to join the rally because, “I have strong convictions… affordable healthcare for all citizens, a women’s right to choose, a rejection of racism, a rejection of misogyny, a reasonable gun control law, an ethics oversight of our presidency” among them.
A sister march taking place in Santa Ana will also be attended by folks from the community, said Tom Osborne in an email, who will accompany his wife, Ginger. “Meg Monahan has organized a 40 passenger bus for us to go to Santa Ana… and there are others going by train and car,” said Charlotte Maserik, who plans to board the bus.
Local Ann Quilter also plans to make the trip to Washington. She said in an email, “I march for social justice, rights for women, our LBGTQ community, religious tolerance and racial justice. These are the values as reflected in love of country that I want my grandchildren to inherit.”
Mary Ferguson committed as well. “I have never marched before and yet am compelled to travel to Washington,” she said, adding, “the climate can’t wait.”
Laguna speech therapist Lynn Epstein signed on, too. “I am marching because ‘We the people’ should be protected by government policy, not separated and divided… The constitution was written to promote general welfare, ensure domestic tranquility and justice for all. It seems these principles are in jeopardy. I march to remind our civil leaders and citizens of these basic American ideals.”
President of Village Laguna, Johanna Felder, says she’s going to march in Santa Ana for “women to have control over their bodies, for clean air and water, for universal health coverage, for the preservation of our national parks and for equal rights.”
Megan Hilliard, who will also be making the trip from Laguna to Washington, said she wants to “be present and raise my hand to say that I was involved in advocating for myself and other women. I want to stand together to validate our contributions and rights for women, the same way I would advocate for my fellow men or my fellow neighbor no matter what gender, race or religion.
“I want to take back with me an action plan to my home and my community to promote and encourage respect toward others,” Hilliard said.
Cherry Dickinson, whose children voted for the first time in November, said she wants to be a role model for her family to demonstrate “that apathy is not an option. We must be active. It is our entire nation’s responsibility to protect decades of progress and to continue to fight for women’s rights, all human rights, and the rights of families and their communities. It is my goal to send a message to incoming administration that we are not willing to sacrifice our values.”
On the evening of Shook’s initial Facebook entry, 40 like-minded women immediately responded. By the next morning, 10,000 posters expressed interest in marching.
Eventually, organizers sought professional help to plan the march, which tweaked the initial name of Million Woman March due to a 1997 event in Philadelphia that had already used that moniker. Organizers secured a permit Dec. 9 to march on Independence Avenue at the southwest corner of the US Capitol building and continue along the National Mall.
The four co-chairs for the march are Bob Bland, a fashion designer; Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York; Tamika Mallory, a political organizer and former executive director of the National Action Network; and Carmen Perez an executive director of the political action group The Gathering for Justice. Vanessa Wruble, co-founder and co-president of Okayafrica, serves as head of campaign operations.
Reproductive rights will be a large part of the march and Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America have signed on as partners. Celebrities are also lending their names to the cause including Amy Schumer, Samantha Bee and Jessica Chastain. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem recently signed on as a march co-sponsor.
“We plan to make a bold and clear statement to this country on the national and local level that we will not be silent and we will not let anyone roll back the rights we have fought and struggled to get,” Mallory, a gun-control advocate, said in a Washington Post interview.
The Women’s March Facebook page declares its purpose: “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.
“The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights,” it adds, echoing a 2000 speech at a special United Nations session in Beijing by Hillary Clinton, the first female to secure a major party’s presidential nomination.