Women’s March, Inc. is one of two major national left-wing advocacy organizations that were created from the organization behind the January 21, 2017 “Women’s March on Washington” and related demonstrations against the election and inauguration of President Donald Trump. Most of the original main organizers of the Washington, DC, event went on to serve on the board and/or work with Women’s March, Inc., which has affiliates in many states that are often operated by the same people who helped recruit and transport participants to the January 2017 rally.
Women’s March, Inc., has applied for the trademark rights to the phrase “Women’s March,” and sent legal notices to other organizations warning them against using it without permission. The dispute over whether any one organization should own the movement’s name has led to public criticisms going back and forth between Women’s March, Inc., and the other organizations, including March On. The corporate structure of Women’s March, Inc. is not known.
In contrast to March On’s emphasis on transforming its grassroots alliances into success within the electoral process, Women’s March, Inc. pursues a continuation of the protest agenda.
Board members Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez, and Women’s March, Inc., co-president Tamika Mallory, have publicly affiliated with and praised anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Ms. Mallory’s attendance at and promotion of a Farrakhan speech that featured numerous slurs toward Jews brought criticism of Ms. Mallory and Women’s March, Inc., from Jewish organizations across the political spectrum and from allies within their own movement.
Nine of the 14 people (13 women and one man) who were listed in significant organizing roles for the January 2017 Women’s March on Washington now have roles with Women’s March, Inc. Six of the women now constitute the board of Women’s March, Inc., including all four of the original Women’s March on Washington national co-chairs — Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland — plus Breanne Butler (then the state and global coordinator) and Janaye Ingram (then the head of logistics).
Women’s March, Inc. pursues a general activist and protest agenda, organizing local and national marches and demonstrations. As examples, in March 2018 it sponsored “A Day Without Women,” a supposed general strike wherein women were to draw attention to their issues by declining to participate in the workforce or as consumers. The organization also sponsored the September 4, 2018, protests against U.S. Senate confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, during which board member Linda Sarsour was arrested for disrupting the proceedings.
In addition to the January 21, 2017, Women’s March on Washington, there were similar well-attended rallies that took place across the nation that had no organizational nor legal affiliation with the Washington, DC, event. Organizers of many of these local events held commemorative events on the first anniversary of the 2017 event, and have continued to participate in local left-wing activism. Many of these locals have affiliated with rival organization March On.
Prior to the first anniversary of the January 2017 rallies, U.S. and Canadian organizers of some of the local groups and commemorations received notice from Women’s March, Inc., that these locals were prohibited from using the phrase “Women’s March,” to identify and promote their groups because Women’s March, Inc., had applied for a U.S. federal trademark for the phrase.
Differences over tactics and ownership of the “Women’s March” phrase have resulted in public disputes between Women’s March, Inc., and March On and its allies.
Associations with Louis Farrakhan
A number of Women’s March, Inc. leaders have appeared with or praised Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the black nationalist group Nation of Islam and a man the left-leaning Anti-Defamation League has characterized as “America’s leading anti-Semite.”
On February 25, 2018, Women’s March, Inc., co-president Tamika Mallory attended a Chicago speech given by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, which included numerous derogatory swipes at Jewish people: In the speech, Farrakan denounced the “Jewish controlled media,” called Jews “children of the devil” and members of the “synagogue of Satan,” and blamed Jews for the “degenerate behavior in Hollywood turning men into women and women into men.”
Ms. Mallory posted an Instagram photo promoting the event and received a favorable reference from Farrakhan during his speech. She and other Women’s March, Inc., board members had portrayed themselves in the past as Farrakhan allies.
“Thank God this man is still alive and doing well. He is definitely the GOAT [greatest of all time]. Happy Birthday @louisfarrakhan!,” Mallory said in a May 11, 2017, Instagram post, featuring a photo of Farrakhan with his arm around her.
A February 2016 Instagram post showed a photo of Farrakhan speaking at an event in Detroit, with a Mallory caption reading: “The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan just stepped to the mic for #SD16DET… I’m super ready for this message! #JUSTICEORELSE #ForTheLoveOfFlint.”
Board member Carmen Perez posted a November 2016 Instagram photo of herself and Farrakhan shaking hands. It included favorable comments from Mallory and fellow board member Linda Sarsour, who said of Farrakhan “… the brother does not age. God bless him.”
Mallory and Women’s March, Inc., received significant public criticism from allies and Jewish organizations following the February 25, 2018, Farrakhan speech. While no formal attempt at an explanation was made by Women’s March, Inc., for more than a week, Mallory and Sarsour engaged with critics on social media about the matter. Appearing to echo a longstanding anti-Semitic trope, Mallory said in a Twitter post: “If your leader does not have the same enemies as Jesus, they may not be THE leader!” (Mallory later denied that “enemies” referred to Jewish people.)
The lack of a swift apology led Alyssa Klein, an employee of Women’s March, Inc., and one of the organizers of the January 2017 Women’s March on Washington, to announce her resignation from the organization.
Nine days after the incident, a statement from Women’s March, Inc., explained: “Minister Farrakhan’s statements about Jewish, queer, and trans people are not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principle.”
The policy agenda of Women’s March, Inc., is expressed in what it calls “Unity Principles.” While some of the principles are either supportive or in opposition to concrete policy goals, many others are less specific value statements. The organization aligns with a left-wing identity politics movement known as “intersectionality”; observers have tied the intersectional movement to Women’s March leaders’ associations with Farrakhan.
Support for publicly subsidized abortion on demand (“open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people”), a higher minimum wage (“right to organize and fight for a living minimum wage”), and passage of the Equal Rights Amendment are examples of the group’s clearly defined policy positions.
One example of the less defined policy positions is the statement regarding “disability rights”:
“We believe that all women’s issues are issues faced by women with disabilities and Deaf [sic] women. As mothers, sisters, daughters, and contributing members of this great nation, we seek to break barriers to access, inclusion, independence, and the full enjoyment of citizenship at home and around the world. We strive to be fully included in and contribute to all aspects of American life, economy, and culture.”