Women’s March on Washington: Origin and impact

On January 21 nearly 5 million people gathered around the globe in a historic feat of peaceful protest called the ‘Women’s March.’ It began with a woman named Teresa Shook, a retired lawyer and grandmother currently residing in Maui, Hawaii.

“I went to bed the night of the election just discouraged and woke up feeling worse the next day thinking ‘how could this be?’ I was just sad and dumbfounded from the rhetoric of the campaign and the hatred and bigotry,” she said in an interview. That night (with the help of some members of the pro-Hillary Clinton facebook page “Pantsuit Nation”) she created an event on facebook to be held the day after the presidential inauguration titled ‘Women’s March on Washington.’

She reports “[I] went to bed with about 40 people coming, 40 maybes. And woke up to more than 10,000 coming and 10,000 maybes.” She soon partnered up with Bob Bland, a seasoned activist and fashion designer based in New York. In a Nov. 10 Facebook post, Bland says “ I think we should build a coalition of ALL marginalized allies + do this,” after which she proceeded to combine the efforts of multiple facebook protest pages. Under the advisement of Vanessa Wruble, editor for OkayAfrica and now campaign manager for the Women’s March, Bland recruited the help of three more activists who were to become the chairwomen of the March: Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Carmen Perez.

Originally called the “Million Pussy March” (in reference to one of Donald Trump’s more popular unsavory comments), the name eventually was changed to the “Women’s March on Washington” to invoke thoughts of the Civil Rights March on Washington lead by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963. Across the globe, 673 marches were held simultaneously from Aruba to Zimbabwe for “human rights, women’s rights, and justice,” inspiring creativity in forms of crafts (such as the Pussyhat Project), songs, and signage. Since the march, it is apparent that many people (women especially) have begun to mobilize socially and politically.

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