Even as controversy has splintered the leadership of the original women’s march, held the day after President Trump’s inauguration and in opposition to him, Baltimore and other cities will again host their own gatherings in what has become an annual event across the country.
Organizers in Baltimore began making signs for the Jan. 19 march Tuesday night, when they also announced the details of this year’s local march, which starts with a rally at 11 a.m at City Hall. The march route has not been finalized.
“This is Baltimore’s march,” said Odette Ramos, one of the organizers. “This is our march. We want it to be for every woman.”
The group distanced itself from the rift between some of the leaders who had organized the first national march, on Jan. 21, 2017, which was held in Washington and hundreds of cities across the country. Drawing more than 4 million participants, many wearing signature pink pussycat hats in reference to Trump’s taped statement about grabbing women by their genitals, it was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Hundreds of thousands of others marched in support in locales around the globe, even in Antarctica.
Since then, the original national leadership of the event has divided over issues of anti-Semitism and diversity, and some local marches have been canceled while other groups have disavowed ties to the organization, Women’s March. Leaders of that organization have worked with or praised Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and some have called on them to resign for his repeated anti-Semitic remarks. One of the original organizers of the first march left and now heads a separate group, March On. Both groups have websites that list marches going on the weekend of Jan. 19, including Baltimore’s.
The local organizers made a point of demonstrating their diversity and inclusion, which they say has characterized their group from the start.
Zainab Chaudry, another organizer, said the march will celebrate advances made since the first march, including the number and diversity of women elected to Congress and the Maryland General Assembly.
“We’re finally beginning to see what America actually looks like from elected leaders who are in office,” she said. “It’s an extra-exciting time to be a woman in our city and our state.”
But she also noted the issues that will be highlighted by the march that all affect women — from poverty to criminal justice to sexual violence to the continuing government shutdown.
“We’re marching for them,” Chaudry said.
In Maryland, two other groups have scheduled marches: from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 19 in Annapolis, and at 2 p.m. Jan. 20 in Westminster.
As there has been the past two years, there will be a march in Washington, starting at 10 a.m. In 2017, the march in the District of Columbia drew more than 500,000 people.
Even before the split on the national level, Baltimore has had its own march as a way of giving an option for those unable or unwilling to make the trip to Washington.
“Although we’re close to Washington, we’re a strong, independent city on our own,” said Jessica Klaitman, another organizer. “We’re standing on our own two feet.”