Organizers focus on diversity
Last year, over 100,000 demonstrators bottlenecked the streets surrounding Civic Center Park to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The Women’s March was a mobilization of anger, a response to an election that many protesters believed would compromise the United States’ progress toward “human rights and equality,” according to the event’s website.
This year, the movement decided to rebrand itself.
After becoming one of the largest global public demonstrations in recorded history—with grassroots gatherings held on every continent and professionally organized marches drawing crowds more than 400,000 strong in many American cities—the Women’s March became the target of months of criticism. Some focused their ire on iconography, like the pink knit caps colloquially known as pussy hats, for being exclusionary of transwomen and women of color. Others, like Rosie Campos, an organizer for a chapter of the March held in Pennsylvania, critiqued protesters for overwhelmingly focusing on the issues surrounding white women. “White activism continues to be lazy activism,” Campos wrote in a post on Medium that responded to the March. “What will this organization do when all eyes are on them? Will they continue to tread the well-worn path of white feminism to the exclusion of others?”
Activists leading the charge for 2018’s event said no. Across the country, Women’s Marches dropped pussy hat-inspired art from commemorative merchandise; locally, a board was convened to decide how the ideologies of the event could be progressed from 2017’s demonstration. Denver organizers established a Steering Committee designed to find and profile the voices of community members who felt excluded from last year’s conversations. On Jan. 20, 2018, the Women’s March on Colorado profiled a line-up of speakers who spoke about the marginalization of Native Americans, defended the existence of DACA legislature, and rallied for awareness surrounding Denver’s growing homeless population.
“I was encouraged to see grassroots mobilization on such a large scale and with such enthusiasm,” Kayla Gabehart, director of National History Day Colorado and CU Denver alumnus, said. “I hope going forward as a movement we are even more conscious about inclusiveness and intersectionality.”
“We march for the underserved and justice for all, for human rights and equal rights, and yes, Donald Trump, we march for our Dreamers today,” Mayor Michael Hancock told the crowd before the march began. Last week, Hancock withdrew from a scheduled meeting with President Trump after the Department of Justice threatened Denver with a subpoena concerning its status as a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants.
Moving forward from the Women’s March, organizers invited participants to engage with local activist groups like Denver Homeless Out Loud, Indivisible Front Range Resistance, and 9to5 Colorado.