The 2017 Women’s March set a tone of mainstream resistance, in Seattle and across the nation and world, to the many competing agendas of President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress. Seattle City Council member and representative for District 3, where the 2018 march will step off from Capitol Hill this weekend, Kshama Sawant recalls the historic event:
“Right after Trump was elected, everybody — and especially Democratic party operatives, who had just lost the election for Clinton — was sitting in a sort of paralysis of shock and demoralization,” she said. “Ordinary people were not. In fact, the day after the election, ordinary people, especially young people, wanted to go out and show their complete opposition to Trump’s anti-worker, anti-immigrant agenda.”
Outrage against the new president — regularly stoked by its subject — remains white-hot one year later. “In a lot of ways our worst fears and concerns have played out through 2017, and continue every day when we look at the headlines,” said state Rep. Nicole Macri. “The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have taken on assaulting our very basic rights here”–for instance, those of immigrants and patients.
- Timing: Assembly on Cal Anderson’s Bobby Morris artificial turf will begin around 10 AM with shuttle buses from organizations and groups traveling to Seattle for the march expected to arrive around the park much earlier. The 2018 march program of tribal blessings and speakers is slated to take place from the stage on the south end of Bobby Morris from 10:30 to 11:30 AM at which point marchers will be directed to begin assembling onto 11th Ave and E Pine. Speakers are expected include Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Mayor Jenny Durkan.
- How to get there: Officials are asking marchers to use buses or light rail and to plan to arrive early. Sound Transit said it is working with Metro, and the transit agencies in Pierce and Snohomish counties “on the best ways to get people to/from light rail stations” and tells CHS they’ll have “all available trains ready to roll” on the 20th. “Saturdays, we normally run 3-car trains every 10 minutes and can cut that down to every 5 minutes during big surges,” a spokesperson said. Consider using the UW light rail station at Husky Stadium as a better place to drop off marchers who can then ride the line up the Hill to Broadway for a short walk to Cal Anderson
- Details: Expect street closures on Pine as the main artery of the march route off the Hill. Portable toilets were being planned for Cal Anderson’s basketball and tennis court area but facilities along the march will be left to area businesses and buildings. Expect a lot of people asking for the key at your favorite coffee shop. People who require mobility vehicles and people with strollers will have access to the route, planners say. Please don’t bring your dog for the walk. Also,
unlike last year, this year’s march will be cool and, likely, drizzly.
- Who? The roster of organizers is posted and you can view participating businesses and organizers here.
- The end: The march ends, again, at Seattle Center. Transit agencies were coordinating bus holding and pick up areas to help marchers make their way out of the area or back toward light rail. Uber is also providing $5 rides from Seattle Center after the march. Use promotion code WOMXNSMARCH18. Organizers expect the last marchers to reach the center around 3 PM.
- More at seattlewomensmarch2018.com/march-information/
The 2018 efforts have grown. “March on Saturday, act on Sunday,” organizer Liz Hunter-Keller told CHS about the weekend of action surrounding this year’s march.
In addition to an anniversary march this year, organizers will bring together a “Day of Action” on Sunday, January 21, at nine “hubs” in the Seattle area, including Bellevue and Sammamish, for a total of about 100 events.
Each hub has five to ten events planned. For example, the Neighborhood Action Coalition will lead a training on Sunday on organizing nonviolent actions.
Sunday — 2018 Womxn Act on Seattle Hubs
- Amplifier Impact Hub – Pioneer Square
- Casa Latina – Central District
- Central Washington University – Sammamish
- City Hall – Downtown
- Crossroads Mall – Bellevue
- Muslim Association of Puget Sound – Redmond
- Phinney Neighborhood Association – Greenwood
- The Riveter – Capitol Hill
- Seattle Center – Lower Queen Anne
- Stand-alone events
But the various movements involved are diverse. The “hub” day at Capitol Hill’s location hosted by female-focused coworking space The Riveter is telling. In addition to a panel on “intersectional feminism,” Sunday at the riveter will also include a panel on “womxn entrepreneurship” and another on “womxn, science, and leadership” along with meditation sessions, yoga, and voter registration.
Even with Sunday’s day of action, many feel it is still important to hold a new march on Saturday after the massive wave of attention and energy created by the 2017 event when more than 100,000 people took to the streets of Seattle. “It accomplished people not only learning how to participate, but how to take next-steps,” said Ali Lee, a lead organizer for this year’s Women’s March in Seattle. “And that was something new for a lot of people, outside of just voting.”
So, why did the 2017 Women’s March matter? And what do this weekend’s anniversary march and related events accomplish, not just symbolically inside the hearts and minds of marchers but in terms of affecting real-world conditions?
“It is important that we are going to have this march,” Sawant said, “…because it is a reminder that if we want change, it’s not going to happen by us simply engaging in online messages and writing letters to elected officials. The struggle is going to be in the streets.”
“I’m looking forward to people coming together again, taking stock of the emotional energy of our communities as we continue to fight,” Macri said. “I started my term in the legislature last January, going home to Seattle and participating in protests and demonstrations nearly every weekend for the first couple months.” That kind of collective action consciousness-raising, says Macri, helps fuel her own determination in the grueling halls of Olympia.
“I am hoping this [weekend] will be an opportunity for folks to get inspired,” she says, “because this is the long game. We’re going to need to stand up for our rights and continue to push for progressive change. I think Seattle stands out in its interest and ability to do that.”
Sawant notes the march’s national significance. “This march will be happening nationwide, not only in the context of Donald Trump having been elected to the White House—so basically the most dangerous predator being the president of the United States—but also in the importance of this collective struggle that has begun from the #MeToo sentiment,” she says. “It’s very clear now, if it wasn’t already, especially to men, that sexual harassment in the workplace, sexual violence, sexual abuse, is rampant in our society and in politics.”
Sawant said that the march and related activism show that “young women, especially the millennial generation, are refusing to accept society on the current basis.
“That is one of the most optimistic things I’ve seen in the past five years.”
Sawant emphasizes the importance of ordinary people claiming physical public space in the traditional venue of public grievance: the street.
“What actually won [women] the victories of the past was taking the movement on the street. In fact, the abortion rights movement won by women saying, ‘It’s not working, asking Senators and Congress members nicely. This will need for us to go out on the streets, and building a mass movement that poses itself as a challenge to the social order, to the ruling class.’ That is what will be required if we are to make any shifts in addressing sexual harassment.
“We are in a period of social resistance like we have never seen in our lifetimes.”