Approved – NV
Three leaders of the Women’s March on Washington who helped organize one of the largest mass mobilizations in United States history following the inauguration of Donald J. Trump have stepped down from the organization’s board after years of controversy.
Their departure comes as the organization, which grew out of anger over President Trump’s election, tries to move past its history of discord and to focus on the 2020 presidential and congressional races.
Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist; Tamika Mallory, an African-American gun control activist; and Bob Bland, a white fashion designer, are moving on to other commitments, the organization announced in a news release on Monday.
The organization said in a statement that their terms expired and that 17 new board members had been appointed after a national search.
Their departure, earlier reported by The Washington Post, follows complaints from some local women’s march leaders that the New York-based group was too insular to lead a national movement. It comes after two of the earliest organizers of the march on Washington accused Ms. Mallory and a fourth co-chair, Carmen Perez-Jordan, of making anti-Semitic remarks.
Ms. Perez-Jordan, a Latina activist who organizes against mass incarceration, will remain on the Women’s March board.
The four co-chairs helped change the face of American feminism by highlighting the voices of women of color, as well as sexual minorities. But they were also accused of concentrating power in the hands of a small group of New York-based activists.
The group angered some activists in other parts of the country when members tried to trademark the name Women’s March in the wake of the 2017 march, which was put together by loosely connected volunteers, many of whom found one another on Facebook. Millions took to the streets in simultaneous marches in Washington and hundreds of cities around the world.
After the 2017 march, the four co-chairs ousted one of the group’s earliest organizers, Vanessa Wruble, who is Jewish. Ms. Wruble later helped establish a new organization and made accusations of anti-Semitism. Ms. Mallory’s close ties to the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who is respected in the black community, but is widely reviled in the Jewish community for virulently anti-Semitic remarks, had long raised eyebrows in New York.
The accusations, made public before the 2019 march, heightened a sense of infighting. In some cities, including New York and Philadelphia, two separate women’s marches were held.
In a statement, Ms. Sarsour, Ms. Mallory and Ms. Bland expressed pride in what they had accomplished.
“Our mission was to build a powerful institution that defied the status quo, centered the leadership of women of color and united diverse women around a set of principles that are intersectional, visionary and bold and we feel accomplished,” they wrote. They added: “We look forward to spending the next 14 months building power and engaging voters nationwide to win this critical election.”
Ms. Wruble said in a statement: “There’s a lot of work to be done as we approach 2020. We can’t afford to be divided — and I welcome everyone to join us as we march on the polls again.”
The organization praised the three departing board members in a statement as “instrumental” to the organization’s success, and said it appreciated their “groundbreaking work and sacrifices.”
The New York-based Women’s March group announced on Monday that the new board members from across the country had been chosen in July. They include Shawna Knipper, a veteran Women’s March organizer in Pennsylvania; Samia Assed, a director at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice; and Ginna Green, chief strategy officer of Bend the Arc, a progressive Jewish group.
Even without the controversies, the ad hoc group of activists who threw themselves into organizing the 2017 Women’s March on Washington faced an enormous challenge in trying to turn the disparate marches into a unified movement.
As Women’s March battled allegations of anti-Semitism, new groups have emerged. They include Supermajority, which aims to train and mobilize millions of women in the run-up to the 2020 elections and has attracted widespread attention.
Supermajority, whose leadership includes Cecile Richards, a former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Alicia Garza, a founder of Black Lives Matter, kicked off a national tour in Atlanta over the weekend.