by Joce Blake
Today marks the one year anniversary of the Women’s March on Denver.
Last year, this single-day protest brought out women and men by the millions around the globe and hundreds of thousands in the city of Denver. From the inception of the Women's March, national co-chairs Vanessa Wruble, Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour had a clear mission "to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change."
The mission also states that the Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists and organizers to engage in their local communities through training, outreach programs, and events. Above all the Women’s March has been committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity, and respect.
The momentum the 2017 march created was exceptionally regenerative as many women felt liberated to run for office and take on roles that are typically dominated by males. Never in the history of woman-dom, have 390 women been empowered to run for the House of Representatives with the goal of giving the boot to the patriarchal men who currently occupy those seats.
This year the March on Colorado Board, Tish Beauford, Lisa Cutter, Jessica Rogers, and Jolie Brawner, knew they wanted to be intentional and inclusive. Jolie Brawner, organizer and executive director at local non-profit Washington Street Community Center, shared some of the details from what goes on behind the scenes of an event of this magnitude.
How long did it take to organize this year’s march?
We officially obtained the permits for the March and Rally on November 1st, and we announced we would be having an anniversary march at the 28th of October March on Colorado Women's Summit. The planning has really been in full gear since the permits were obtained on the 1st.
What goes into the effort to organize thousands of women?
Lots of time, patience, and support. Everyone working on the March is a volunteer, meaning we have given up our evenings, weekends, and any free time to make this happen (not to mention the amazing support and understanding we are all getting from our families and friends). So what goes into an effort like this? Everything we have because it's a labor of love.
Is there a small group of leaders or is this part of a larger organizational effort? What individuals or groups helped coordinate the event?
After the 2017 March on Denver a board was formed to facilitate strategic forward movement. Members of this board work to support all aspects of march planning, and thoughtfully direct momentum resulting from the march into the community. We believe that social justice, human rights, and equality are shared American values. We firmly believe that there is still much work to do and that real change will only happen when all marginalized people are an active and respected part of the conversation. Until we have socio-economic justice and are active participants in a government that works for all of us, there is a reason to march.
Last year’s March demonstrated the power of our combined voices, and many were galvanized to run for public office as a result. We believe it is important to continue the momentum created in part by the Women’s March, and serve as a forum for women, transgender, and non-binary communities to express their intention to create real and significant change in our society. The Women’s March belongs to all of us. To that end, we recognize that many groups have been working on women’s and social justice issues for decades. In our sincere effort to honor the women and communities engaged in this important work, we have created a March On steering committee. This steering committee is helping us shape the January 20th theme and speaker roster, in addition to helping channel the march momentum into impactful community efforts moving forward. https://www.marchoncolorado.org/about
What do you hope will change as a result of the Women’s March?
I hope the Women's march re-energizes individuals that have become so tired in this past year. Last year so many women were galvanized to run for public office by the moving display of the women's March; I hope this year is as inspiring. I hope this year as we urge people to March to The Polls in 2018 they hear the message and use the energy of the Women's March to become involved in their community, feel a new connection to their fellow Coloradans, and show up in force to vote this November. To ensure we have opportunities to direct the energy of the Women's March beyond the March we have established a "Continuation Committee" and have events available for people to connect to their local activist community starting the day after the March.
More information on events is on the March On Colorado Facebook page under events: https://www.facebook.com/pg/marchoncolorado/events/?ref=page_internal
What do you think drives so many women to participate in the Women’s March?
I believe people are driven to participate in the Women's March because they are sick of yelling at the news alone at home. The Women's March offers an opportunity for individuals to come together and feel connected to and supported by their community. There is something so powerful about looking around you and seeing thousands and thousands of people who want to celebrate what they are pro, support every individual in their community, and connect.
This year's Rally theme is "Hear my Truth." All speakers and artists are meant to be “everyday women”--women who have opinions to share and stories to share but who aren’t normally given the platform. Specifically, women who are marginalized but who feel comfortable in speaking in front of a large crowd will be given the microphone to share their stories…their truths. The idea is that if each community can be heard, they will rally stronger together.
I hope that two things happen.
1. That people hear a voice they have never heard before, and reflect on how different all our experiences are, but also
2. That everyone can hear parts of a story that they connect to and realize we are not so different after all.