This Monday is the anniversary of the first Women’s March on Washington, one of the most inspiring events in US civil rights history, but you’d be forgiven for being confused about how different parts of the US are celebrating it this weekend.
As the New York Times (paywall) has reported, there are now two large national groups running women’s march and women’s march-adjacent events in the US. One is Women’s March Inc., the original group that organized last year’s March on Washington, which drew an estimated 470,000 people. Taking place the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the march aimed to send a message that women’s rights are human rights, and inspired similar mass marches around the world. The other group, March On, is a newer collective that emerged from all the networking inspired by that day of action. Co-founder Vanessa Wruble told CNN that the group decided to branch off to focus on electing Democrats in red states during the 2018 midterm elections.
“I think the main difference between March On and Women’s March Inc. is that Women’s March focuses on issues around social and racial justice, which are issues everyone in March On care deeply about as well,” Wruble said, “But all these things we want to change about our country, none of it is going to happen until we change our elected leaders.”
Both groups are running projects aimed at boosting voter registration rates and reversing voter suppression. March On is behind March to the Polls, announced in early autumn, and Women’s March, Inc. is behind Power to the Polls, revealed in late autumn. And they’re both supporting anniversary protests happening across the country this Saturday, Jan. 20.
So, what does this mean for you? That depends where you live.
As was true last year, this weekend’s events are being run by a decentralized network of organizations in states and cities. They’ll once again be joined by international sister marches in places like Toronto, Rome, Kampala, and Adelaide, to name a few international sites. (Scroll to the bottom of this site, too, for additional global listings.)
Both groups have created searchable maps to find marches and march-related events, like breakfasts and post-march meetings. You may need to check both to build your itinerary. If you look for the Chicago march, for instance you’d find it on the March On event page, but not on the Women’s March Inc. map.
Women’s March Inc.—as a reminder, the original group—is descending on Las Vegas this year, moving away from the capital as its focus, for a few reasons.
Most significantly, Nevada may be a key state to flip from red to blue in 2018. The city was also the site last year of the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history, and Women’s March Inc. wants to address the gun regulation debate. At Sunday’s event, speakers will include prominent politicians and civil rights activists as well as leaders from Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood.
Publicly, the two groups are not criticizing each other. Indeed, as Wruble also told CNN, “there’s certainly enough work to go around.” Yet many organizers who spoke to the Times said they were not even aware that two main groups existed. Women’s March Inc. has also been asking March On affiliated groups to avoid using the logo created by Nicole LaRue, pro bono, last year. The logo is seen on a banner here:
Fortunately, activists believe the momentum from last year’s march has already translated into increased engagement in topics that women care about, despite any hints of division. After all, they are united by a deep concern for the same things. Tomorrow, “nasty women,” and people of all genders, are expected to march for, in no particular order: immigrant and LGBTQ rights, racial and economic equality, ending sexual harassment and violence against women in support of the #MeToo movement, the environment, peace, political representation—basically, human rights that are women’s rights too.