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Can the Women’s March sustain momentum and overcome internal tension?

Three years in, the Women's March is facing criticism as it strives to sustain political momentum. While the first march is believed to be the largest single-day protest in American history, organizers have since come under fire from groups claiming they were left out or pushed aside. Amna Nawaz reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Over the weekend, thousands gathered in D.C. and other cities as part of the annual Women's March, now in its third year.

    Organizers first built the march on a message of inclusivity. But they're now facing criticism from groups who claim they have been left out or pushed aside.

    Amna Nawaz has a closer look at the challenges of sustaining a modern political movement.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Under gray skies and through a frosty chill, they marched, thousands of women in Washington, D.C., joined by hundreds of protests across the country, for the third annual Women's March, many inspired by the collective call for change after the 2016 election.

  • Julie Wash:

    I felt abused by my political system. I felt used. I felt like it didn't represent me. I felt like my voice wasn't heard. I felt like I didn't have a voice.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The day after the 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump, an unprecedented mass movement. Five million people, in over 600 cities and towns worldwide, rallied in response.

    The issues ran the gamut: gender equality, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, and environmentalists. It's believed to be the largest single-day protest in American history. The ideas came together under a single entity, Women's March, Inc., led by four women, Carmen Perez, Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, and Linda Sarsour, lead organizers who became the faces of the movement.

    The 2018 march inspired slightly smaller crowds, fueled by the MeToo movement, calls for gun reform after the Parkland and Las Vegas shootings, and focused on voter turnout ahead of the midterm elections.

  • Bob Bland:

    Marching is not enough. Wearing a Black Lives Matter T. is not enough, posting on social media, not enough. There's much more at stake here than that.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That November saw an historic number of women win elected office. At the same time, the Women's March itself came under increasing criticism.

    From the beginning, housing many diverse causes under a single umbrella was a challenge. Early criticism included a failure to highlight the disproportionate struggles faced by women of color. Conservative women, including pro-life groups, claimed they were excluded, and preceding this year's march accusations of anti-Semitism.

    Those charges centered on Mallory's association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, an iconic and influential advocate for black America who's also repeatedly made anti-Semitic remarks.

    Key backers of the march, including some Democratic leaders, stepped away. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote: "While I still firmly believe in its values and mission, I cannot associate with the national march's leaders and principles, which refuse to completely repudiate anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry."

    Sarsour responded on behalf of the Women's March, writing: "We are deeply invested in building better and deeper relationships with the Jewish community. And we're committed to deepening relationships with any community who has felt left out of this movement. We want to create space where all are welcome."

    Mallory explained her refusal to outright condemn Farrakhan on the "Breakfast Club" radio show.

  • Tamika Mallory:

    I have not condemned the men who killed my son's father. I have never denounced them. I have never talked about them in a condemnation context.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The controversy carried over into this year's march.

  • Woman:

    What we're not going to do today is be negative.

  • Woman:

    And to my Jewish sisters, I see all of you. I came to do a job with my sisters, and we will complete and job. And no one will be discarded from this movement.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The 3-year-old movement now confronts the challenge of moving its masses forward in unity. And organizers have released a political agenda to mobilize supporters into 2020 and beyond.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Amna Nawaz in Washington.

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