cheng ting

Women’s March Organizers

Top row (left to right): Ting Ting Cheng, Tabitha St. Bernard, Janaye Ingram, Paola Mendoza, Cassady Fendlay, Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland, Nantasha Williams, Breanne Butler, Ginny Suss, Sarah Sophie Flicker. 

Bottom row (left to right): Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Vanessa Wruble.

The story of how the Women’s March on Washington came into being has already been codified into lore. As the returns rolled in on November 8, a Hawaiian grandmother and retired attorney named Teresa Shook created a Facebook page suggesting that women gather to protest in D.C. on inauguration weekend. Then she went to bed. By the time she woke up, 10,000 people had affirmed the plan.

Simultaneously, Bland, founder of the fashion incubator Manufacture New York and an advocate for domestic manufacturing, had a similar idea. She also posted about it on Facebook, where her followership had ballooned after she raised $20,000 for Planned Parenthood by selling Nasty Woman and Bad Hombre T-shirts. “We need to form a resistance movement that’s about what is positive,” she remembered thinking. “Something that will help empower us to wake up in the morning and feel that women still matter.”

It wasn’t long before Shook and Bland caught wind of each other and consolidated their efforts. Soon Wruble became aware of their plan. In her real life she runs Okayafrica, a media platform seeking to change Western perceptions of Africa that she cofounded with her business partner, Ginny Suss (also the march’s production director) and The Roots drummer Questlove. Having worked for years as a white person in a black space, Wruble quickly recognized that Shook and Bland, both white, could not be the sole faces of the protest they were starting to organize. “I think I wrote, ‘You need to make sure this is led or centered around women of color, or it will be a bunch of white women marching on Washington,’” she paraphrased. “‘That’s not okay right now, especially after 53 percent of white women who voted, voted for Donald Trump.’”

Bland agreed, and Wruble reached out to a friend, activist Michael Skolnik, who recommended she and Bland talk to Mallory and Perez. The latter two activists brought Sarsour to the table shortly thereafter.

Somewhere in there, controversy bloomed over the name Shook had floated: the Million Women March, which threatened to overwrite the history of a same-name protest by thousands of African-American women in Philadelphia in 1997. It was Wruble who proposed that they call it the Women’s March on Washington instead, locating their protest in direct lineage with the 1963 March on Washington, the occasion for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The new coordinators even reached out to the civil rights leader’s daughter, Bernice King, who offered her blessing and shared with them a quote from her mother, Coretta Scott King. Perez read it to me when we followed up by phone a couple weeks after the shoot: “Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.’” 

“It gave us all chills,” she remembered. “It assured us that we were moving in the right direction.

”What I think she meant is this: Where past waves of feminism, led principally by white women, have focused predominantly on a few familiar concerns—equal pay, reproductive rights—this movement, led by a majority of women of color, aspires to be truly intersectional. (x)

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Hua Xu Yin: City of Desperate Love  ~  Teaser

            “unprecedented love tune
                              rewrite the lovefair word of the ruins
                                                     battlefield of fire turmoil of the law”