Hundreds of Baltimore residents and Hopkins students gathered at City Hall on Jan. 19 for the third annual Women’s March. Speakers highlighted women’s recent political gains, protested the Trump administration’s policies and outlined various challenges women in Baltimore face, before leading demonstrators through War Memorial Plaza.
Speakers included Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore and Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore state’s attorney.
The first international Women’s March took place on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of U.S. president Donald Trump. It was the largest protest in U.S. history, drawing an estimated 3.3 to 4.6 million people. Turnout this year was far lower; Buzzfeed News estimates 10,000 turned out for the D.C. march. Some accredit this to allegations of anti-Semitism within the movement, which has led several state chapters, liberal groups and Jewish community leaders to withdraw support.
Despite this controversy, Sarah Marion, the first female rabbi at Temple Oheb Shalom, a synagogue in Pikesville, spoke at the event, endorsing interfaith unity against violence.
“I dream of a world in which Jews, Christians and Muslims join together to dismantle the walls of racism and the walls of anti-Semitism from our midst,” she said. “I dream of a world in which the piercing wail of the mother who has just lost her child to gun violence pierces into the heart and soul of every synagogue, every church and every mosque.”
Marion described her synagogue’s collaboration with Masjid Bait-us-Summad, a mosque in Rosedale, as a model for others to follow. She argued that racism, sexism, islamophobia, homophobia and anti-Semitism are systemic forms of hate and oppression.
“We know that when women and men join together to tear down the walls that divide us, the possibilities are endless and the sky is the limit,” she said.
Mosby also spoke about the importance of intersectionality.
“We stand yet again as the bedrock of our community, representing every neighborhood, every race, every religion, in unity with women all across the country, to once again stand against bigotry and hate,” she said.
Several speakers mentioned specific ways in which bigotry has affected their communities and contributed to historic inequalities.
For example, Guadalupe Franco Sanabria, a member of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), shared her struggles as a Mexican immigrant under the Trump administration. She recounted how the 2012 passage of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allowed her to get a work permit, which gave her a sense of security that turned out to be temporary.
“I could finally breathe and felt safe enough to fully begin living my life to its full potential. I felt so safe that I even came close to owning the home where my children would share all of their childhood memories, but 15 days before closing on the house, the Trump administration announced their push to cancel DACA, and the bank called to terminate my loan because the DACA program had an uncertain future,” she said.
Nicole Mundell, a representative from Out For Justice, spoke about the marginalization of women with criminal records in Maryland. Out For Justice is a community organization that supports the professional and educational goals of individuals with criminal records.
“We have a situation where women are an afterthought in the prison system. We have a situation where women can go to prison for years, and come home with no support structure,” Mundell said.
Brittany Oliver, another community leader and founding director of the organization Not Without Black Women, condemned the persistence of sexual and domestic abuse against black women. She argued that while black women have been vocal about sexual violence and have spoken out against predators like R. Kelly, not enough has been done to address these grievances.
“For far too long, I’ve been arguing for the basic worth of black women and girls. Black women and girls are particularly pressured to keep their mouths shut to protect men who commit violence or abuse, sexual or otherwise,” she said.
Many speakers stressed the importance of solidarity with other movements and cooperation among marginalized groups.
Sana Siddiqi, a Muslim Baltimore resident, linked the struggles of Muslims and Palestinians with those of refugees and immigrants, calling for organized action against racism.
“As Muslims, as refugees, as Palestinians, as immigrants, our struggles are linked. So today I call on us all to organize — in unions, against racism and anti-LGBTQ policies. Against ableism, against ICE. Against sexual harassment and the erasure of indigenous people,” she said. “By fighting against all of this, you will be fighting also for Muslims.”
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh also addressed the importance of solidarity among women.
“We are not just women but we are leaders in this city, in this state and in this country. Women are changing the political landscape. We are harnessing our collective voices to achieve social, political and professional victories,” she said.
Senior Cassidy Speller wished she had seen more Hopkins students at the March, but admired the diversity of the speakers and their messages.
“It was amazing to see members of the Baltimore community from so many different backgrounds come together for the cause. I really appreciated the efforts by the organizers to include narratives that are often excluded from conversations about our politics,” she said.
Lawyer Kathryn Bradley said in an interview with The News-Letter that although she attended the first Women’s March in 2017, she didn’t attend the one last year because she felt like the status quo had not been disrupted.
“I was a little disillusioned by the fact that it didn’t seem like anything had changed,” she said.
Gloria Reed, a nurse at Hopkins Hospital, said in an interview with The News-Letter that she planned to join Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign, which will be headquartered in Baltimore. Reed believes that women’s rallies highlight the strength of feminism.
“We need to be out in numbers so that Congress and other elected officials can see that there’s actual power in the movement,” she said.
Democratic Central Committee Member for District 43 Angie Winder discussed her goals as the founder of Restoring the Village, a grassroots organization that seeks to improve quality of life and safety in Baltimore.
“I march for my husband and every victim of violence,” she said. “I march for the voiceless.”
Winder called for women at the March to join forces and assume leadership positions. Oliver echoed these sentiments, focusing on future elections.
“2020 and beyond is going to be one of the most historic and challenging moments of our lifetimes. The time is now to do the work necessary if we want to win,” she said.