The controversial women’s march in Washington, D.C., is over, but Charlotte’s is coming Saturday.
Local organizers pushed the event back a week to avoid overlapping with a parade and other Charlotte events honoring Martin Luther King Jr. (Raleigh did the same thing). They’ve also distanced themselves from the national movement, which was torn by conflict among organizers and groups that had supported the 2017 and 2018 events.
Charlotte’s Women United March has a new name and a roster of speakers designed to keep the focus on issues that unite women while countering criticism that past marches, locally and nationally, have been too white. Here’s what to expect.
What’s the schedule?
From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, speakers will deliver remarks at First Ward Park, 301 E. Seventh St. Around 12:30 the group will march down Tryon Street to The Square and return to First Ward Park. Music, vendors and information booths will continue until 3 p.m.
Keynote speakers are Anita Earls, a civil rights lawyer who is now an associate justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court, and Rabbi Judy Schindler, a Jewish studies professor and director of the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte.
Emcees are Andrea “Angie C” Chandler of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Gina Esquivel of Civic Canvas, a bilingual consulting firm.
Speakers include Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt, Stefania Arteaga of Comunidad Colectiva, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Susan Harden, storyteller Hannah Hasan of EpochTribe, Myka Johnson of Charlotte Uprising, Rebby Kern of Time Out Youth, Gina Navarrete of Charlotte Women’s March, Pamela Pearson of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, gun control activist Rev. Sharon Washington Risher, Dr. Jessica Schorr Saxe of Health Care Justice North Carolina and Ash Williams of SisterSong.
Will there be anti-Trump signs and pink hats?
Organizers have asked speakers to avoid partisan rhetoric. The Charlotte chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, a nonprofit whose tax-exempt status requires it to be nonpartisan, is co-sponsoring this year’s event, along with the original founders, Charlotte Women’s March. But the signs that appear will be up to participants, and President Donald Trump has featured prominently on protest signs for the past two years.
In fact, it was the 2016 revelation of his comments about grabbing women by the private parts that inspired the pink “pussy hats” that became a symbol of the first march, which took place the day after Trump’s inauguration. Plenty of hats still exist, but they became somewhat controversial after some said the symbolism was offensive because it refers to genitalia. That criticism came not only from opponents on the right but potential supporters on the left, who said women of color and transgender women could feel excluded.