By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
More than 200,000 women have signed up to attend the January 21, 2017 Women’s March on Chicago and D. C. They intend to let the Donald Trump administration know they will not allow their “precious rights to be rolled back.”
That is the fight back message these women are issuing to Trump, who will be sworn into office on January 20, 2017 as the 45th President of the United States.
A multi-ethnic group of more than 100 women attended a late night meeting last Wednesday at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters, 930 E. 50th St., where Mri Malimi, Illinois state lead and a national organizer for the upcoming January 21, 2017 Women’s March on Chicago and D.C., said women around the world are holding similar marches simultaneously.
Greeting the women was Rev. Janette Wilson, senior advisor to the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., who listed some of the women’s issues driving women around the world to simultaneously hold marches in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and other supportive cities in numerous countries.
Wilson said the women are marching for the protection of the right to vote, and to have a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote as a federally protected right and not a state’s right.
On the issue of reproductive rights and justice, Rev. Wilson said it is important to have the “right of women to choose health over death and to have a guaranteed right to access high quality health care without regard to race and/or economic status.”
She spoke of women having economic justice in employment, access to high quality public education, and acquiring contracts in the public and private sectors.
The women are marching to end violence against them and to support legislation that protects against intimate partner violence and sexual assault. They are marching for racial justice and maintaining civil rights, student loan debt forgiveness, de-politicizing access to health care, a just immigration policy for all women, especially mothers, and free college education for all students who qualify.
What should women do to achieve equality and justice?
Rev. Wilson said they should organize state-by-state to fight for a women’s platform, organize female students in schools across the nation to fight for student debt forgiveness, and organize women to push the U.S. Senate to not support Jeff Sessions for attorney general.
When asked the purpose of the march, Malimi said, “It is to show up in Washington in numbers too large to ignore…to give notice to the incoming administration and legislators throughout our country that we are here and we are watching.
“We are prepared to take action and fight whatever divisive or threatening legislation that comes up. We are ready to support each other, stand up for each other, especially for marginalized minority populations throughout the country,” Malimi told the Chicago Crusader. “We are not just going to sit and just watch as some of our precious rights are rolled back.”
Asked what are their fears, Malimi began ticking off a litany of concerns based on Trump’s political agenda like his having a Muslim registry. “This is a country that offers equal protection to all religions and groups irrespective of their religious beliefs, their sexual orientation, their gender.”
Referring to Trump’s vow to deport 11 million Latinos and to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to keep out immigrant “rapists and drug dealers,” Malimi said women are objecting to Trump’s “build the wall” rhetoric, and the slandering and demonizing of immigrants. We know where that is coming from, but the fact that this is mainstream talk, that is my fear. It’s not just one man saying it, but everybody cheering him as he says it. I feel this is a very dark path to walk down.
“We can’t stop people from saying this. We can just hope that our voice on the other side is stronger and twice as loud so that we know those horrible, negative and divisive talks are drowned out,” Malimi said.
Asked what is her message to the Trump administration, she said, “Please do not forget that you are the president for everybody. We do not wish that you fail, because if you fail we all fail.” Malimi said she did not choose him to be the president but that she respects the office.
“I hope he does not forget that he doesn’t only represent the people who voted for him. He also represents the people who didn’t and who do not agree with the policy platform that he put together. It is his duty now as the commander-in-chief and our representative to the rest of the world to uphold what all of us believe in…our shared American values. He has to represent all of us,” Malimi said.
Besides the D.C. March, thousands will attend a Women’s March at 10 a.m. on Saturday, January 21, 2017 at the Petrillo Bandshell in Grant Park.
For more information, click on: womens121marchonchicago.org to learn how women are sending a message that they and their supporters will “connect, protect and activate for women’s rights, civil liberties and diverse issues.”