If 2017 was the year of resisting, 2018 is the year of persisting.
"Philly Women Rally," the organizers of last year’s Women’s March on Philadelphia, is hosting the second Women’s March on Jan. 20.
“The issues that impact women remain the same,” said organizer Salima Suswell. “If I could march every day, I would. A year after the largest demonstration in our nation’s history, we continue to speak up and remind the world that women will not be silenced.”
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Suswell, the first Muslim woman to serve on the Pennsylvania Commission for Women and a board member of CAIR-Philadelphia, spoke to the crowd at the 2017 March. She began with a prayer from the Quran and her speech highlighted her being unapologetic about who she is and being present in a long, hard fight for equality.
The 2017 March that took place the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration brought 50,000 marchers to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The board of organizers spent the last year meeting with new members and planning various events, announcing the second Women’s March in the fall.
“It’s easier this time around because we know more about what we’re doing,” laughed organizer Beth Finn, who founded Philly Women Rally with Emily Cooper-Morse. “In other ways, it’s harder because I think there is still a lot of momentum, but maybe not as much as there was last year. We are still fundraising for things like setting up the stage and paying for sanitation.”
Despite challenges, perseverance is the name of the game when activism is your side hustle. Finn and her fellow organizers communicate through conference calls, group texts, and never-ending emails.
But recent events that affected many audiences of the women’s movement such as the #MeToo and “Time’s Up” campaign were like a new awakening for the movement. Organizers said The key motivation is retaining hope, both among the organizers and for those who are impacted by the oppression that spans across communities.
“As a trans woman, we all know this particular regime has targeted the trans population,” said Women's March organizer Deja Alvarez, another speaker-turned-organizer. “As soon as you get home and you feel like your feet are on the ground, it seems like this group is now trying to take that away from you. For me, what this did was shake me up.”
“I have felt beat up and beat down,” Alvarez said. “I have felt tired, but I’ve never given up.”