Marching toward progressive unity in women’s liberation
For the second consecutive year, massive demonstrations led by women swept through the United States, countering the wave of right-wing reaction intensifying under the Trump administration.
Corporate news commentators would have us think that millions of people in the streets were simply a buildup for the 2018 U.S. elections. USA Today’s headline actually read: “The real march is on Election Day.”
But for the crowds this year from Australia to Zambia, for the 200,000 in New York City and the 14,000 in Knoxville, Tenn., Jan. 20 was a day of struggle toward a new movement for women’s liberation.
At the grassroots, those organizing for progressive unity in this new wave are fighting for women’s liberation to be anti-racist and anti-imperialist, pro-worker and pro-union. They are celebrating people with disabilities as well as LGBTQ sexuality and respect for genderqueer, gender-fluid and trans people. Here are some snapshots of the Women’s March.
In New York City, demonstrators included the art installation group, Brick by Brick, wearing patches with women-hating comments by Trump. Echoing a movement chant for a prominent political prisoner, “Brick by brick, wall by wall, we’re going to free Mumia Abu Jamal,” they stood for hours against the imprisonment of sexual abuse.
Workers World Party women, including trans women and gender- nonconforming people, and supporters in Boston, attended a rally of 4,000 at the Cambridge Commons. Their revolutionary solidarity in placards and signs read: Trans Women ARE women; Solidarity with Haitian, Latinx and African People; The Revolution Is Female, Free Ahed Tamimi and All Palestinian Political Prisoners; and Time’s Up for racism, sexism and white supremacy.
In a Baltimore crowd estimated at well over 5,000, the Women’s Fightback Network said NO to the racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and anti-poor “Trump agenda.”
Progressive activists in Philadelphia issued a strong statement rejecting the corporate organizers’ collaboration with police who conducted security checkpoints for the march. They called for a boycott of the action because it endangered marginalized women. (See related story in this issue.)
Organizers for the Pensacola, Fla., march asked participants to be in solidarity with trans women by not wearing the pink “pussy hats” from last year’s protest of Trump’s misogyny. Devin Cole of STRIVE, a trans activist group, said: “Not every woman has a vagina and not every person who has a vagina is a woman. We believe in the intersectional liberation of women.” (Pensacola News Journal, Jan. 12)
As over 4,000 rallied in Roanoke, Va., and over 7,000 in Cleveland, Fightback!News reported several hundred protesters, including immigrants and members of the anti-war and anti-police brutality movements, marched in the streets of Minneapolis chanting, “Refugees are welcome here!”
A looming snowstorm did not deter at least 80,000 marching through downtown Denver in view of the gold-domed state capitol building. Besids anti-Trump and pro-women’s rights signs, there were noticeable signs for justice for Black Lives Matter, the Dreamers (DACA) and protection of immigrants, especially because of recent attacks on Denver as a Sanctuary City. Support to stop hydrofracking was strong, as Colorado is hard hit by the Trump administration’s cutting of environmental safety regulations to favor large oil, gas and mining corporations. Signs against U.S. wars were few but attracted much positive comment.
A contingent of over 1,000 Native people protesting the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women led the Seattle march of more than 50,000 people. The contingent was followed by a large contingent of Muslim women.
Gabriela Oakland (Calif.) organized a militant and spirited contingent with over 100 strong. They chanted, with drums beating, “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA,” “When I say trans, you say justice!” and “Rise up, resist! No need for killer cops or jails. The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”
Their call to action read in part, “We must highlight the economic, political and cultural aspects by connecting how imperialism perpetuates and worsens Violence against Women in all its forms. Let us RISE to protect women, trans and gender non-conforming people, and our children! Let us RESIST economic exploitation of our women! Let us UNITE for the self-determination of all oppressed people to fight for their basic rights and livelihood!”
Co-sponsors of the contingent included Gabriela SF, ASATA- Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, Anakbayan East Bay, APIQWTC-Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women & Transgender Community, Aypal: Building API Community Power, Banteay Srei, Boomshake Music, International Women’s Alliance, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, League of Filipino Students-SFSU, National Ecumenical Forum for Filipino Concerns-North California Chapter and Workers World Party.
Perhaps as many as 100,000 people marched in San Diego, while the official estimate of the marches in Los Angeles reached 600,000. Due to the presence of a pro-Zionist speaker for the racist, apartheid state of Israel, the LA event was boycotted by Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return coalition, and by PAWA, the Palestinian American Women’s Association.
In solidarity, the International Action Center-Los Angeles and Workers World Party-Los Angeles did not attend, issuing a statement reading in part: “It is more important to stand with those who are targeted by a specific oppression and take their lead, especially when it has the chance to expose and reject reactionary actions that discourage unity. … Any movement that denies the most oppressed is a fractured movement and must be challenged. We remain forever in solidarity with Palestine, along with the many progressive women, LGBTQ, Black, Brown, Asian, white and Jewish voices against U.S. imperialism, the apartheid state of Israel and racism.” (Entire statement available at workers.org.)
Contributing to this article were Devin Cole, Phebe Eckfeldt, Rebecka Jackson, Terri Kay, Andrew Mayton, Bob McCubbin, Jim McMahan, Susan Schnur, Maggie Vascassenno, Gloria Verdieu and Viviana Weinstein.
Oakland, Photo: Megan Zapanta; San Diego, WW Photo: Gloria Verdieu; Minneapolis, Photo: Fighback!News; Denver, WW Photo: Viviana Weinstein