By: Courtney Aaron
Good Morning and welcome to the 10th post of KU Conversations! Our topic for today is the Women’s March on Washington that took place on January 21, 2017. A lot of you readers have probably heard a lot about this event and may be wondering why it happened and what the main purpose of the Women’s March was. A large group of people gathered together in Washington for a rally (from 10am to 1:15pm) and to march to advocate and protest for multiple rights and beliefs. The Women’s March website lists the many reasons why people wanted to march listed as unity principles. These principles included reproductive and women’s rights but also LGBTQIA rights, environmental justice, immigrant rights, and a few others. The march was prompted by concern over losing rights to these principles under the newest presidential administration, hence the march was held the day after the swearing in of President Trump on January 20, 2017. There were a lot of people involved with working on the Women’s March on Washington including setting the event up, organizing, coordination, and many others jobs.
Gloria Steinem speaking at the Women’s March on Washington (photo provided by Voice of America)
The event had four national co-chairs including Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland. There are also 5 honorary co-chairs including Angela Davis, Dolores Huerta, Gloria Steinem, Harry Belafonte, and Ladonna Harris. Here is a video of two of the co-chairwomen and one of the co-organizers being interviewed by Associated Press.
Some of the honorary co-chairs and national co-chairs served as speakers during the rally event before the Women’s March on Washington. We have multiple videos of a few speakers from the event and a video by ABC News covering a majority the rally before the march started. Here is a video recorded by the New York Times covering the March around the U.S. and across the world. There are also a couple excerpts from speeches. It has feminist Gloria Steinem, co-chairwoman Linda Sarsour, and transgender rights activist Janet Mock. We have videos of multiple celebrities’ speeches provided by Reflect including Alicia Keys, Scarlett Johanssen, Madonna, and Ashley Judd. We also included biographies for the speakers provided by Biography In Context. Actress Ashley Judd‘s speech was reciting a poem by 19 year old Nina Donovan called “I Am A Nasty Woman”. The poem was created in response to one of Donald Trump’s comments towards election competitor Hilary Clinton referring to her as a nasty woman. Actress Scarlett Johanssen gave a speech dedicated to basic healthcare for women through Planned Parenthood. She surprised the audience with personal stories about how Planned Parenthood helped her family and friends in the past. She also discusses how important it is to remain involved and vigilant in the affairs of the nation. Singer and songwriter Alicia Keys delivered a brief speech quoting Maya Aneglou‘s Poem “Still I Rise” and sang her hit song “Girl on Fire”. Out of all the speeches Madonna‘s raised the most controversy with her speech. It centered on the march being the start of a revolution of people who will fight for their freedom, identity, and rights to equality. Towards the end of the speech she admitted to thinking about blowing up the white house and realizing it wouldn’t change anything. However, this speech caused a lot of debate over whether her speech was amazing or wrong. Madonna herself believes that those who are worried or angry about her speech are taking it out of context and need to focus on the speech as a whole instead of just that one part.
Protestors at Women’s March in London (Photo provided by Flickr user felixbadanimal)
As you can see in this NPR article the Women’s March didn’t just happen in the U.S. but was a worldwide phenomenon. These marches in other countries and states were called the sister marches. There was also a trending hash tag on twitter called #whyimarch where people across the world shared stories and reasons why they marched. People are also talking about their respected historical figures and giving advice on ways to get involved politically. Protestors around the world weren’t the only ones to pitch in for this march. There were many small businesses that also helped with the process. This article from LexisNexis talks about how small businesses like Knitty City and design studio ThoughtMatter rose to the occasion to provide their services for the march in their own ways.
The Women’s March happened to defending multiple rights that feminist generally stand for. However there is one issue that is a divide in feminists. Reproductive rights were one of the unity principles of the Women’s march but not all feminists believe in pro-choice ideals. In these articles from NPR and The Atlantic there is a discussion about pro-life feminists and the awkward position they were put in because of this divide. Many of the pro-life feminists attended the March for Life event roughly a week after the Women’s March on Washington. There are pro-life feminists that believe in a lot of the unity principles like the New Wave Feminists and aren’t following the uniform alignment with the Republican Party. What do you think of the situation? Please post your thoughts and opinions in the comments section here or on the libraries Facebook page!