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On Saturday, another crowd will gather on the National Mall -- not to celebrate, but to advocate. William Brangham talks with Bob Bland and Carmen Perez, co-chairs of the Women's March On Washington, about the organization’s mission to protect women’s rights, creating a safe space for difficult conversations on sensitive issues and remembering that “we’re all people first.”
So, in addition to the protests today, there are plans for much more to come tomorrow.
Women from around the country are making their way to the nation's capital, with others preparing for events in cities around the globe. The crowds on the National Mall on Saturday are expected to be in the hundreds of thousands.
William Brangham recently sat down at the Newseum with two organizers of tomorrow's march, Bob Bland and Carmen Perez.
William began by asking what they hope to accomplish.
BOB BLAND, Co-Chair, Women's March on Washington: We are bringing together women, men and allies from all different types of communities from all over the country to say that we're standing in solidarity together to say that women's rights are human rights.
CARMEN PEREZ, Co-Chair, Women's March on Washington: We are coming here so that we could show this new administration that we're not going anywhere, right?
And there are so many more of us that are actually united than we are divided. This March on Washington is to ensure that Congress, our new president and the Senate know that we're going to continue to fight for our rights, that we're going to protect the most marginalized communities.
What are you marching for, and what are you marching against?
So, we are marching to continue to allow women to make decisions about their bodies and ensure we have reproductive justice rights, immigration reform, criminal justice reform, as well as indigenous rights.
So, there are so many things. We have been extremely intentional about allowing organizations to get involved, Planned Parenthood, as well as Define American.
And every woman has their own reason for marching. So, that's the really beautiful thing about this.
We have seen, through the last 18 months and everything that's happened, that we can be complacent no longer.
There are so many specifics in your guiding principles, everything from minimum wage, to reproductive rights, to environmental concerns, to indigenous people's concerns.
Why was it important to you to be so specific in the things that you're marching for?
We wanted to make sure that there was a mission, there was a vision, that we started organizing for something, not against something, right? So, this is not a march against Trump. This is a march on Washington, Congress, the Senate, our president.
I hear what you're saying, that this is not against Trump, but the timing of it couldn't be more obvious.
Is there something about his administration that you guys are particularly concerned about?
Well, we saw an increase in this country in instances of bigotry and racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny. A lot of this came to the forefront and these conversations came to the forefront during the election cycle.
Some of the guiding principles that you have laid out seem to really place a lot of emphasis on the concerns of women of color, immigrant women. Was that intentional?
It was intentional, especially because our new president-elect was attacking a lot of these communities with his — some of his racist rhetoric around Mexicans and building a wall.
And I'm Mexican-American myself. Linda Sarsour, one of our national co-chairs, is Muslim American. We need to have courageous conversations. Sometimes, we — we don't speak about religion and politics and race because we don't want to offend anyone. But how are we going to learn?
It's hard to talk about these things.
So, that's what this march has been able to do, is to create a very safe space and an honest space, where we could have these difficult — quote, unquote — "courageous" conversations, so that we can move forward together as a country.
What would you say to a young woman of color who has heard about what they might see at a feminist march or a feminist action in the past, and felt excluded from that, and they think, I'm not going to do this?
What I would say to a young woman of color who doesn't feel like this march or even feminism has ever been for them, I would say, we need you.
We welcome you.
There's many moments where I never saw somebody like myself reflected in leadership. And that's why I have taken that role now.
Is there any concern that, because this march is happening the day after Trump becomes president, and is clearly targeted in some ways at the Trump administration, that you might alienate a part of the country who may have supported Trump or may have been a Republican, or that you might end up driving people away because this is seen as a partisan day?
I will say, we welcome everybody who actually supports women's rights.
And so, if you are Republican, if you are a Democrat, if you are Green Party, whatever party you are, we welcome you to be a part of this. And so I believe that there are many women who voted for Trump who are also coming, and families.
You think that's right? You think you're going to have women who support Trump that will be here on Saturday?
I believe, you know, that people who feel connected to women's rights are going to be there.
And I think that there are many, many conservative women who didn't vote for Trump. And they have been e-mailing us and saying, yes, we want to stand in solidarity against misogyny and for our rights as women.
And so I think it's a moment where we can look at, what does it mean to be conservative, are you Republican or are you Democrat, and that's it. I think we're all people first.
How will you measure whether or not Saturday is a success?
For us, this impact will be something that reverberates across the country and across the world for quite a while.
And, so, you know, we will see what the long-term impact of it is. But I think that's also up to the marchers. I think it's up to them to take their power and use it.
Do you think Donald Trump will be watching?
I think he will be tweeting.
All right, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez, thank you both very much.
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