Thousands March on Washington Despite Controversy

Thousands March on Washington Despite Controversy
The event — a reprise of the Women’s March protesting the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017 — began with a gathering in front of the rally stage in Freedom Plaza. (Source: Capital News Service)

By Corrine Fizer

Capital News Service

WASHINGTON — Waving signs and chanting loudly, hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets of the nation’s capital. The crowd, drawn from across the country, made its way to the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue to march for the rights of women and minorities.

The event — a reprise of the Women’s March protesting the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017 — began with a gathering in front of the rally stage in Freedom Plaza. Equipped with colorful and often humorous signs, marchers of all ages and backgrounds came together to address various issues surrounding women’s reproductive rights, sexism and racial injustice.

The march was not without controversy. It started after Tamika Mallory, co-president of the event, posted an Instagram photo of her with Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, calling him the “greatest of all time.” Farrakhan has been widely criticized in the past for anti-Semitic remarks.

Mallory declined to condemn Farrakhan’s statements and instead said that the Women’s March does not align with Farrakhan’s beliefs regarding the Jewish people. While some protested the march after Mallory’s comments, others came to march in solidarity with the Jewish community.

Sarah Boxer, a student from George Washington University, was one of those who showed support. Boxer, surrounded by her friends, held up a blue sign with the message: “I am a Jewish woman and proud.”

A seasoned marcher, Boxer said she was hesitant to come to the third annual Women’s March after hearing Mallory’s remarks. She said it’s important to remember that Mallory is just one person in a large organization.

“I have a lot of great women around me to support me,” Boxer said. “I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be Jewish. I shouldn’t have to choose either side of who I am because of the controversy.”

Boxer added that she feels it is imperative for members of minority groups to show up and speak out.

“I think in order to have a successful women’s march, it’s important to recognize the impact that all women have, and I think it’s important that Jewish women especially talk about how they’re feeling,” Boxer said. “It’s important not to stay silent.”

Ahead of the third Women’s March on Washington, organizers unveiled what they called a “bold and visionary” policy platform — the Women’s Agenda. The plan serves as the organization’s “roadmap” to extending its advocacy year round.

The agenda calls for reproductive rights, racial justice, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, economic justice, civil liberties, disability rights and environmental justice. The group is calling for “universal health care / Medicare for all,” ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and an end to war.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.