Women’s March Faces Numerous Cancellations Across the Country
Ahead of this year's event, New Orleans and Eureka are two recent pullouts — 'due to several issues'
The 2019 Women’s March, marking two years of resistance to Donald Trump’s presidency and slated for Saturday, January 19, is facing numerous cancellations from sister marches nationwide amid allegations of anti-Semitism, ties to Louis Farrakhan (the leader of the Nation of Islam group), and calls for national leaders to resign.
The recent pullout by the Women’s March in New Orleans, organized by the National Organization for Women (NOW), is the latest in a string of cancellations from sister chapters across the country.
“Due to several issues we have decided it is necessary to cancel the 2019 Women’s March in New Orleans,” said a recent Facebook post by NOW’s Baton Rouge chapter.
Another cancellation occurred in Eureka, California, when organizers said they believed the event’s leadership was “too white” after people of color said they felt those leaders lacked “diversity.”
“After meeting periodically for several months, it became clear we were lacking a leadership group that properly represented our community,” event organizer Allison Edrington told The Times-Standard. Agreeing the event’s vision was limited to experiences of its “mostly white” leadership, organizers chose to cancel the event, Edrington said.
“We could’ve and should’ve done more outreach,” Edrington told the publication. “But so far, we’ve been unable to get more voices to the table.”
The four co-chairs of the national event — Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour — are facing calls to step down.
“Many of the sister marches have asked the leaders of Women’s March, Inc. to resign but as of today, they have yet to do so,” said the NOW Baton Rouge statement.
“The controversy is dampening efforts of sister marches to fundraise, enlist involvement, find sponsors and attendee numbers have drastically declined this year. New Orleans is no exception.”
“The Women’s March was created to be a beacon of inclusion amid an administration intent on division. NOW will continue to support the Women’s March Unity Principles, and we will participate and organize members to attend the march. However, we will withhold direct financial support until the current questions regarding leadership are resolved,” wrote NOW President Toni Van Pelt in a statement.
Other local chapters have already severed ties with the national organization, including the marches in Houston, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Alabama, Rhode Island, and Illinois, according to The Tablet, an online Jewish magazine, whose article about the issue is titled, “Is the Women’s March Melting Down?”
“We will withhold direct financial support until the current questions regarding leadership are resolved,” wrote NOW President Toni Van Pelt in a statement.
Even the Chicago chapter of the Women’s March canceled its rally planned for January, citing high costs and too few volunteers, as the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.
Opposition to the 2019 Women’s March has also emerged from unlikely voices.
Actress Rosanna Arquette could be a no-show at the third annual Women’s March over concerns about anti-Semitism.
After the Women’s March tweeted about the January 19 event — dubbed the #WomensWave — Arquette responded, “As long as anti-Semitism and division is not part of your agenda,” according to The Washington Times.
Sporting a pink hat — the quintessential symbol of Women’s March resisters of the Trump presidency — Arquette spoke at the 2017 Women’s March in Los Angeles. But she’s become the latest celebrity to denounce the progressive feminist group over the anti-Semitic allegations, which the leadership continues to deny.
Arquette, along with “Will & Grace” actress Debra Messing, is standing in solidarity with actress-turned-activist Alyssa Milano, who has vowed not to speak at the Women’s March if leaders Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour continue to support Louis Farrakhan.
Messing voiced her support for Milano, one of the most public faces of the #MeToo movement, in a tweet not long ago.
— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) November 9, 2018
Internal rifts apparent at the march’s very first meeting, according to The New York Times, “continue to haunt the Women’s March organization, as charges of anti-Semitism are now roiling the movement and overshadowing plans for more marches.”
With 16 days still to go until the 2019 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, it will be interesting to see whether other chapters also pull out if the claims of anti-Semitism go unaddressed.
Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.