Thursday, January 25, 2018

Who Owns The Women's March...,

RollingStone |  A year removed from the Women's March, a lot has changed. Around the country, events marking the one year anniversary of the protests are focused on channeling their energy into political organizing. But the movement is more fractured than ever. Even the name – Women’s March – has become a bitter point of contention between the women who were the public face of last year's march in D.C. — Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez — and the organizers of sister marches around the country and the world.

A number of marches across the United States have received letters from Women's March Inc., protesting their use of the term "women’s march." As the New York Times reported earlier this week, Amber Selman-Lynn, a Mobile, Alabama-based organizer, received a letter from Women's March, Inc. requesting the name be removed from materials promoting the march. The letter said that while the group was "supportive of any efforts to build our collective power as women," they would prefer Selman-Lynn "not advertise your event as a ‘Women's March' action." At issue was Selman-Lynn's use of the slogan, "March on the Polls," created by another group with a similar agenda, March On, in her material. (She removed the name and had them re-printed.)

Many of the organizers of last year's local marches have chosen to incorporate independently – New York's march is being organized by Women's March Alliance, Corp.; Philadelphia’s by Philly Women Rally, Inc. – and some have chosen to affiliate with March On, an umbrella group that sprung up with the express purpose of connecting sister marches after last year's worldwide protest.

Part of the problem, according to Carolyn Jasik, a pediatrician new to activism who helped organize Women's Marches across California last year, is the fact that Women's March Inc. have empowered state coordinators who organized transport from states to the flagship march in D.C., rather than the local activists who organized events in their own communities.

"The local city leads have the best inroads into the community. So if boots on the ground were needed for an action, the city organizers were a lot more equipped to make that happen," Jasik says. After the march, as local groups were primed to get to work right away on issues in their communities, the national organization was still working to formalize a structure and acquire nonprofit status. "These first-time activist leaders needed urgent help with practical matters like legal advice on how to form a non-profit, website support, mailing list management, funding [and] merchandise."