Here’s How Three Women, Including A Mexican-American, Came Together To Organize One Of The Biggest Marches Of Our Time
Activist Carmen Perez has been a tireless fighter for justice in many forms and on January 21st, she will be putting her name on the Women’s March on Washington. Perez is working with Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour to make sure that the march reaches as many people as possible. The co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington and executive of The Gathering for Justice talked with mitú about the importance of the march and her hopes moving forward.
Carmen Perez (far right) felt like she had a responsibility to join the ranks in leading the march.
“I felt a responsibility to my community, particularly being Mexican-American, my mother being from Mexico and my father being from California and Chicano,” Perez told mitú. “This president used racist rhetoric targeting my community. I felt it important to be front and center of this march.”
But the march didn’t get organized overnight.
“It started as just really two women,” Lucy Flores, the vice president of public affairs for mitú, said. “One woman in Hawaii [Teresa Shook] who, after the election… was just beside herself, created this Facebook page for an event saying, ‘Let’s go march on Washington and show Trump that we’re not going anywhere.’ She woke up 24 hours later to 50,000 people who had signed up. Around the same time, another woman, Bob Bland, did the same thing and had the same results. So she found out that there was this other event and reached out to the woman in Hawaii and said, ‘Hey, let’s join forces,’ and it turned into something much bigger.”
Though the march is scheduled for Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Perez wants the impact to last longer and expand beyond Washington D.C.
“I want it to reflect multiple things. I want it to reflect that when women come together in solidarity we can actually create opportunities for other women and also make sure that we are intentional and intersectional about the issues that we care about,” Perez said. “I also want to make sure that people feel a connection to one another and each other’s issues, but also I hope to inspire people who are actually planning to go to Washington D.C. on January 21st.”
“We hope to ignite a spark in [protestors] where they can actually go back to their communities and begin to organize and connect to issues that not only impact them but impact their neighbors,” Perez said.
“Not only are we having this massive demonstration on the first day of this president, and it’s the only one in history, but also there are going to be demonstrations all across the country. There are 340 sister marches that are happening,” Perez added. “There are over 300 organizers and admins that have been working every single day to ensure that their communities are connected to the larger mission and vision of the Women’s March on Washington, and we also have a global community that is also going to be producing sister marches on the same day.”
Perez says that she has been inspired herself by the reaction the march has received.
“The fact that women at the moment felt despair but actually felt like they could come together peacefully to find hope in a community with one another is something to praise and something to recognize,” Perez told mitú. “It is inspiring to know that there are women that we have brought not only to be part of the national organizing committee but also to support the policy unity document that is on our website. So, there have been so many women of color that have been extremely supportive, which I think is a true testament to the women who are organizing this march.”
According to Flores, the event has gotten so much attention that they are expecting between 200,000 and 300,000 women to march on Washington D.C. alone.
And Perez is very grateful to all the people who will be attending. “I just want to say thank you,” Perez said. “Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for coming out. Thank you for supporting women. Thank you for believing that women’s rights are human rights. I am so inspired by the many phone calls, the many text messages, the many posts on social media, and the artists that have come out and supported us, the celebrities. But the people on the ground, the people that are our grandmothers, that are our sisters, that are our nieces, and our brothers. I just want to say thank you.”
And, above all else that this march is doing, Perez reminds us that the real fight begins on Jan. 22.
“The real work is going to begin after January 21st,” Perez told mitú. “We are relying on them to continue the work with us.”