Second annual Baltimore Women's March to be held next week

Crowds are again expected to march in Baltimore and at events across the country next week for the second Women’s March for social and political change.

The Baltimore Women’s March-March Forward! event is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, at the War Memorial Plaza downtown. After a rally, participants will walk to McKeldin Square at the Inner Harbor.

Last year’s event drew an estimated 5,000 people at North Charles and 33rd streets. The local march joined other marches, including the Women’s March on Washington, which drew about 500,000 women and men. Events were held in more than 600 cities across the United States and around the world in support of women's rights. Many also protested the goals of the then newly elected President Donald J. Trump.

Baltimore organizer Sarah Mogol said this year’s event is expected to draw a similar crowd and will emphasize future steps toward progress.

“It’s looking great. Everyone is getting very excited,” she said. “This march in particular is about action and and the role everyone can play and moving all of us forward. Every bit matters.”

Mayor Catherine Pugh, city health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, Sen. Ben Cardin, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and Zainab Chaudry, a spokeswoman and chief of Maryland operations for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, are among the local leaders are expected to speak, Mogol said.

Wen said she plans to talk about health care, “about the gains that have been made because of the Affordable Care Act.”

“For me, this isn’t about politics but people’s lives,” she said. “It’s about how we all need to stand up for access to health and access to life.”

Wen, who gave birth to a son, Eli, last year, said she was often reminded of the importance of access to health care. Last year, Republicans in Congress attempted to pass a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which provided health insurance to millions of previously uninsured Americans. Many health care advocates opposed changes to the health care law.

“Every step of the way, I thought about how lucky I am to have access to affordable health care. What about those who feel a threat to their health care?” Wen said.

The Women’s March is an opportunity for individuals to share their stories in an effort to bring change, she said.

“It is an honor to stand with so many inspiring women,” Mosby said. “I firmly believe that in this moment, we have the power to push a new narrative and it is our responsibility to do what women have always done — lead.”

Mogol said the event is about “participation” and “supporting each other,” to show how everyone can make a difference. Since last year’s march, she said, many women have been empowered and have seen how important it is to speak up about issues.

“You have people running for office,” who were otherwise doing other work, said Mogol, who previously worked on Virginia state elections. Women who met at last year’s rally in Washington are are now serving in the House of Delegates, she said.

The event is open to all “women and their allies,”she said. “Everybody’s included and encouraged to come.”

Baltimore police spokesman Capt. Jarron Jackson said the department is making preparations to have additional officers on duty to accommodate crowds to ensure safety of participants and to cover other areas of the city.

The main event, the Women's March: Power to the Polls, will be held in Las Vegas. Organizers said the emphasis this year will be to launch a national voter registration drive.

“This next stage of the movement will channel the energy and activism of the Women's March into tangible strategies and concrete wins in 2018,” according to the national organizers’ website.

“The national voter registration tour will target swing states to register new voters, engage impacted communities, harness our collective energy to advocate for policies and candidates that reflect our values, and collaborate with our partners to elect more women and progressive candidates to office,” the website said.

Annapolis and Frederick are also expected to have marches.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/janders5

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