Women across the country rise up against Trump
Protesters gathered in the nation’s capital on Jan. 18 for the fourth annual Women’s March, as part of the nationwide demonstrations. WJLA/Associated Press

This year, the women’s marches – and marchers – around the country brought a sharp political point to their processions, and it was aimed squarely at GOP President Donald Trump.

Regardless of whether they braved sleet in D.C. and rain and snow in Chicago, or basked in sunny Southern California, the hundreds of thousands of women, joined by male supporters, all in 250 marches nationwide, made it clear the misogynist Oval Office occupant and his GOP sycophants would be their targets all year, culminating in the November election.

“March today, vote tomorrow,” Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., told a crowd of 12,000 people in Santa Ana, Calif., according to the Orange County Register. Porter was one of a horde of pro-worker Democratic women elected to Congress in 2018, riding the momentum – and anger – Trump had stirred up.

Those new lawmakers gave progressives, including worker allies, a House Democratic majority. And several marchers made clear they’re not only parading but running for political office this year, too.

“Wow,” the women’s march organizers e-mailed. They called it “an extraordinary, nationwide uprising. Tens of thousands of people rose up to reject Donald Trump and everything he stands for in Washington D.C. — alongside hundreds of thousands around the country.

“We rose to demand our elected officials — at all levels of government, everywhere — step up and join us in building a just, bold vision for our country where climate justice, reproductive freedom, and immigrants’ rights are not up for debate. And it was powerful.

“In Boise, Denver, Miami, Portland, Chicago, San Diego, Milwaukee, and beyond – women, femmes, and allies from all walks of life rose up because all our fights for justice are connected. The bottom line: today was incredible, and it’s not over. Our work is just beginning and together we’re going to carry this momentum to November 3rd and beyond.

“P.S. We need to keep up this momentum as Senate impeachment hearings begin, and then carry it all the way to November to defeat Donald Trump,“ they added.

Preserving reproductive rights was also a big theme of the thousands nationwide. It’ll have to be, the Supreme Court, which has a five-man GOP-named majority, just decided, weeks before, to hear a right-wingers’ case this year scheming to obliterate a woman’s right to choose. Trump named two of those justices: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, a sexual abuser during high school.

“With our freedom under attack like never before, we can’t let the anti-choice minority force their unpopular agenda on the 77% of Americans who support reproductive freedom. #WomensMarch2020. WomenRising2020,” NARAL Pro-Choice America, which helped organize the marches, tweeted.

At the Chicago march. Photo by John Bachtell/PW

The marches, on Jan. 18, also tied together the current political campaign with the centennial of the ratification of the constitutional amendment giving women nationwide the right to vote. “Thank you for taking the time to recognize the ancestors who came before us. It’s our turn now,” the women’s march organizers re-tweeted after learning about such commemorations.

They also tied together women’s rights and civil rights, with many marchers noting this year’s events fell on the weekend honoring the birth of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“We were honored to have Andrea Waters King, @OfficialMLK3, and their 11-year-old daughter, Yolanda, join us for #WomensMarch2020 in D.C.,” the organizers tweeted, accompanying a photo of King addressing a crowd of tens of thousands at Freedom Plaza. “We thank you for preserving a legacy this country tried to erase and for continuing the work of championing for black communities everywhere.”

“We rose up today to demand our elected officials step up and join us in building a just, bold vision for our country where climate justice, reproductive freedom, and immigrants’ rights are not up for debate. And it was powerful,” march organizers tweeted.

Marchers also came armed with a recent victory: The new Democratic-run Virginia legislature ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, with bipartisan majorities in both Houses. It was a key campaign plank for Democratic victors. That made the Old Dominion the necessary 38th state to OK the ERA. But that issue may get tied up in court since the original ratification deadline ran out at least two decades ago.

Workers had their own marchers in the D.C. demonstration, with contingents led by National Nurses United (NNU) and one of its co-presidents, and the Coalition of Labor Union Women, led by President Elise Bryant, a News Guild local officer. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler also joined the marchers, while AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson joined in a later event.

“Registered nurses brought a special message to the 2020 @womens march: We are all equal under the eyes of our union contracts. Unions empower women workers!” NNU tweeted.

Politicians noticed, and joined in, too. Besides Porter in Santa Ana, other political paraders included Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who marched through Manhattan. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, DA Kim Foxx, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle were among the thousands marching from Grant Park into the Loop.

Other issues got mixed into the Women’s Marches. Women in New York City filled in blanks on “I’m marching for” signs with the words “young black girls” and “missing indigenous women’s lives.” In Los Angeles, dozens of the marchers protested Trump’s saber-rattling against Iran.

In Richmond, Va., women’s marchers also campaigned for gun control measures pending before the new legislature and pushed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) – two days in advance of a pro-gun rally which forced Northam to declare a state of emergency due to the threat of violent out-of-state gun-toters, white supremacists and neo-Nazis descending on Richmond.

Massive police presence and tight security forestalled any outbreaks. The women’s marchers in Richmond had their own answer: “Women brought grit, love, and courage for the work ahead. These men are only bringing guns. #VirginiaRally,” they tweeted.

And as the D.C. marchers were led by an enthusiastic group of female drummers, they turned a block-long parade from Freedom Plaza down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Trump-owned hotel there into an impromptu street dance. They also mixed in another issue: Criminal justice reform.

“It’s the cops. It’s the judges. It’s the system. It’s the president,” they chanted.

The past marches have already prompted at least one marcher to run for Congress this fall: Kathy Ellis, in southeastern Missouri’s Eighth congressional district, now GOP-held. Another marcher, Tasha Boerner Horvath, seeks a California state senate seat from San Diego.

#WomensMarch taking place now in Cape Girardeau! It’s an honor to speak at the very first Women’s March in Southeast Missouri! When we organize, we can win – this March demonstrates the incredible progress in #MO08!” Ellis tweeted.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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