Join the Women's March and Rally 

What is the Memphis Women’s March?

It began in 2017, with an almost spontaneous uprising, an estimated 9,000 women and some men came to downtown Memphis to lift each other up. They chanted and marched in peaceful protest. Adrienne Bailey told the crowd, “You are continuing the fight, continuing the struggle.” The signs said “love Not Hate Makes America Great,” “My Body, My Choice,” “Equality, Diversity, Unity,” and “The Future isFemale.”

This last sign seems most prescient. The 2017 March led to 2018’s Power to the Polls Rally held in First Congregational Church that featured 11 candidates for office, six of whom were women speaking to a crowd of about 1,000. Of those six candidates five of them won their state and local races. In November 2018, Memphis had its own version of a woman’s wave with Raumesh Akbari, State Senator from District 29 leading the way. 
Women’s March in Memphis - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Women’s March in Memphis

Akbari wowed the crowd last January with one of her favorite quotes from Shirley Chisholm: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” And on MSNBC she told Trymaine Lee, “In Shelby County, we sprinkle black girl magic all across the field, everywhere.”

Katrina Robinson and Tami Sawyer also inspired the crowd and went on to win District 33 State Senate and Shelby County Commissioner seats, respectively, and two judges, Yolanda Kight and Jennifer Johnson-Mitchell, began their road to underdog victories of Shelby County judgeships. Gabby Salinas, Danielle Schonbaum, and Racquel Collins all made solid showings in squarely Republican districts.

This year, the march’s third, we have evolved to organize two events — a March held on January 19th and a Legislative and Action Rally on January 26th. Why two events? Because the energy is there and we can’t miss an opportunity to celebrate women, our progress and our potential, in this new movement. Amber Sherman, the Women’s Caucus Secretary of the Young Democrats of America, saw a need for the march and seized the day for a renewal and refocus of energy. On January 19th, Memphians will speak on topics ranging from reproductive rights to diversity and inclusion to empower and activate the crowd and “to harness the political power of diverse women … to create transformative social change” in community with the National Women’s March mission.

The Legislative and Action Rally the next week, on Saturday, January 26th, will be held at Clayborn Temple, a fitting setting for an activist movement. Speakers will talk about statewide legislative activity, health care for all, common sense gun reforms, immigration, and city and county actions coming up this year. Local progressive groups including Planned Parenthood, Moms Demand Action, Midsouth Peace and Justice, Latino Memphis, and many others will be on hand to sign up rally participants for actions.

There is a lot of talk about momentum in Memphis, in downtown development, yes, but also in projects like Crosstown, Indie Memphis, Shelby Farms, MLK50, and … wait for it… progress in social justice. The past two years have seen the confederate statues come down, #blackgirlmagic win local elections, NAACP and SCDP win a case against the Shelby County Election Commission to keep early voting sites in majority black districts open, and Mariposa Collective come together to feed, clothe, and comfort, immigrants coming through Memphis.

Much work remains. What is the Memphis Women’s March? A movement that celebrates all women, of every race, color, gender, and religion, all of us. Have chair, will travel. Please join us.

Tricia Dewey is Co-coordinator of the Memphis Women’s March.

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