On Saturday January 21, as thousands of people descend on Washington, D.C., for what's shaping up to be an epic march in support of equality and civil rights, many in Phoenix and Tucson will rally in solidarity.
Dubbed "sister marches," the events in Arizona, like those in cities across the nation, are affiliated with the national Women's March on Washington (WMW), a grassroots movement that sprang up in the aftermath of the November 8 presidential election.
Fearing the myriad ways President-elect Donald Trump's incoming administration might harm the rights of women and minorities — limiting reproductive health care, rolling back civil rights, and starting a Muslim registry, to name a few — organizers hope the march, which coincides with Trump's first full day in office, will send a message that the people of the United States will not stand for these sorts of things.
"We stand together in solidarity, and we expect elected leaders to act to protect the rights of women, their families, and their communities," the WMW organizers say.
According to the national organizers, the idea for the WMW event began with a grandmother in Hawaii who, on November 9, proposed to some of her friends that they fly to Washington and march on the Capitol. The plan spread, the story went viral, and now the march's official Facebook page has been shared with 581,000 people — 153,000 of whom have indicated that they plan to attend.
It's unclear how many people will show up, but according to the Washington Post, the National Park Service gave the organizers a permit for 200,000 people.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people in Phoenix and Tucson say they will descend on the state capitol and Armory Park, respectively, in solidarity.
"Join us standing together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country," the organizers of the Phoenix march write.
"I think what the march will act as a display of solidarity and hopefully, gather enough people that elected officials will take notice that dismissing the concerns of women and the larger coalition of social movements is something that they need to reckon with," says Tayler Tucker, 25, who was born and raised in Phoenix and tells New Times she plans to take part in the Phoenix march next month.
"I am going because the need is urgent. I am deeply concerned," Tucker says. "We had been riding a wave of conversations and cultural push to recognize the need to work on equity specifically affecting women. We were finally going to push us further to shore, but with the election of Trump and the larger administration, I expect retroactive and regressive policy from politicians like [Vice President-elect Mike Pence] and [Health and Human Services Secretary-designee Tom] Price, who subscribe to ideology that regards reproductive rights as a political football rather than the jeopardizing of health and social good for women. This affects everyone, since women and women of color like myself often bear the burden of being the backbone to uplift and care for communities."
Why a march?
Tucker says that in the days after the election, there was a lot of venting and ranting online but it quickly became clear that some sort of action was needed, both to send a message to political leaders and to serve as an act of catharsis.
"I want to note that this is a small step," Tucker explains. "This cannot be the end-all, be-all of the longer fight we have ahead. This is the introduction: 'We see your political stunts and we are here to call your bluff.'"
Though the events are billed as "women's marches," organizers say they're "for any person, regardless of gender or gender identity, who believes women's rights are human rights," and who wants to send that message, loud and clear, to the new administration.
"We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up," Tucker says. "We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all."
While the event is a response to Trump's election, organizers are adamant that the march remain peaceful and not devolve into an anti-Trump protest.
Asked why it's important for Arizonans to participate, Tucker responds, "For people in Arizona, which often wears the label of red state, I think the march will show that Arizonans are concerned and are ready to hold politicians accountable. I hope that the march loudly and proudly attests to that truth. As a native Arizonan, [I think] we too easily get placed as a steadfast red state. But I think that there is a growing collective who is done with small-interest policy wrapped in red packages and wants smart policy that enhances economic and educational advancement for everyone."
Adds Facebook user Linda Buchanan, who also plans to attend the Phoenix rally: "I think this will be really impactful coming from a red state. I thought about joining [in San Francisco] or Oakland since I'm from [California], but they will have plenty of people."
Bottom line, Tucker says, "The time is now to come out and speak truth to power. I will show up and show out to ensure that both the public and elected leaders know that we are a force that will not be ignored and we are watching you. We will hold your feet to the fire."
Here's where you can find more information about the marches in Phoenix and Tucson.
Below: the full mission statement from the national Women's March on Washington:
On January 21, 2017, we will unite in Washington, D.C., for the Women's March on Washington. We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.
The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us — women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women's March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women's rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.
We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.
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