Instead of organizing collective action,
The Women's Rally, scheduled for
Unlike in previous years, when the January event meant walking in the streets in protest, the rally this year will stay in
The rally is latching onto the momentum of previous marches without holding to the principles on which those marches were founded, said the Rev.
"Those [founding] principles have been completely abandoned and utterly destroyed by this women's rally," Cobb said. "They have no respect for the progressive nature that this event was intended to be."
Rally organizers said there is a misunderstanding. The decision was made in planning the event to hold a rally with a different mission from the marches. This was not communicated well to the public, said
"Through the lens of the march, the Women's Rally is a broken promise," Boyd said. "When the march became the rally, we did a really poor job of communicating to former marchers that we made this transition."
The rally on Saturday is designed to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment, said
Organizers said the idea to do a rally was intended to broaden the appeal. There would be activities for kids and the opportunity for nonprofit organizations that support women to speak about their mission. Hopefully people could get involved in creating change on the local level, especially because being a progressive in a Republican-controlled state and federal government can feel impossible, said
Originally, the rally was to be nonpartisan, Barclay said, but the group wanted
Smith said she was grateful for the invitation to speak and it has been her understanding from the beginning that the event was about the history of the 19th Amendment.
"I'm deeply grateful for any who are commemorating
Boyd said she was also upset when she learned the rally would bring a different tone from the marches. Since she stayed on the committee, she had months to understand the change, while others are just learning about the switch. When planning for the event was beginning in later summer 2019, a group of around five women left the committee, citing a variety of personal reasons.
"It was a comforting place to be, even though it was a protest," Black said. "Changing the direction of that, it feels like something has been taken from the community."
Both sides of the debate expressed hurt over how the events of the last week have played out. When people began posting online about how the rally was different from previous years' marches, Barclay said, the organizers made the decision to not list the organizing committee members' names online because they were already receiving hateful text messages, emails and social media posts.
Cobb and others who were arrested at last year's rally for blocking the street said they had no choice but to speak out against the new tone of the event.
"To see someone take what is supposed to be a day of empowering minority women to lift their voices in dissent of the current administration and turn it into another opportunity to compromise and come to the table together is incomprehensible to me," Lawrence said. "Those opportunities exist already. We needed a safe space to feel heard and validated. They took that from us."
Wilder said the mission among the rally's organizing committee is for the day to be an opportunity to build a coalition, especially among people with opposing views. The city has not had a politically inclusive event for all women, especially since the state is more than 60% Republican, she said.
Nonprofits with representatives scheduled to speak at the rally include
Multiple organizers emphasized they welcome protesters to the event on Saturday.
Cobb is directing people to volunteer on Saturday rather than attending the rally, pointing to the
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