Before Trump took office in January, the Women’s March on Washington organized itself as a message to the new administration that women and their rights would not be overlooked.
“We believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights,” its mission statement read. “We must create a society in which women—including Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women—are free and able to care for and nurture their families.”
But despite the collective fear and a mission to unite, racial tension ran high, with white women feeling excluded by conversations surrounding race. Black women were feeling white women claiming allyship were acknowledging racism too little too late.
On September 30, the March for Black Women—organized by Farrah Tanis (Executive Director of Black Women’s Blueprint), Ruby Sales, Charlene Carruthers (national director of Black Youth Project 100 and co-founder/executive director of Black Women’s Blueprint), and Bree Campbell (Executive Director of Trans Sistas of Color Project, Detroit)—will bring Black women together in Washington D.C. to amplify their voices. The march will begin at Seward Square through Capitol Hill, ending at the National Mall.
“It is us, and in particular trans Black women and our girls, and our elders and those of us on a low income, who bear the brunt of a multitude of racialized and sexualized abuses which are not challenged with outrage, do not make the screens of our social media pages nor our televisions,” the organizers said in a statement. “The physical, financial and social enrichment of the nation-state at the expense of Black bodies and at the expense of Black lives is too old a strategy, and Black women will not allow for it.”
Sister marches will also take place in Atlanta, Birmingham, St. Louis and other cities.
CASSIUS spoke to Carruthers about her involvement, how the march came together and why this event is so crucially needed.
CASSIUS: How did the March for Black Women come together?
CHARLENE CARRUTHERS: The March for Black Women came together after Farrah Tanis, Executive Director of Black Women’s Blueprint identified a need to center Black women in the struggle for racial justice. She reached out to Black women including Ruby Sales, myself and Bree Campbell (Trans Sistas of Color Project – Detroit, Executive Director) who work across the Black liberation movement to pull together a space that is critically needed in this moment. Our goal is to advance an agenda that honors our legacy and brilliance while also amplifying the need to build political power for every Black woman. So many of us are resilient in the face of the daily and systemic state sanctioned and interpersonal violence, this march celebrates our resilience and stories. It is a call to action for our communities and to those who value Black women’s lives.
C.: As director of BYP 100, why did you personally feel it was it important to be involved?
CC: BYP100 is a leading national organization in today movement for Black liberation and leadership development is our bread and butter. The young Black women who lead in our organization come from so many different experiences. As an abolitionist organization, we believe that the work of Black liberation requires movements to move marginalized people within the Black community to the center—the March for Black Women is an opportunity for us to do just that. We organize through a Black queer feminist lens which essentially means that none of us are free until all of us are free. We want our Agenda to Build Black Futures to become a reality, so we’re bringing that vision to the march and for all the people who attend.
C.: Is this march the answer to the racial tension that came about during the Women’s March on Washington?
CC: Black women have always been vanguards of feminism in the United States and across the world. The Black feminist movement actually happened and it’s legacy endures today. Part of issue has always been one of power and how white women have yielded it to the detriment of Black women. This has roots on the plantation and continues, albeit in a much different form, today. White women don’t own feminism—our ancestors did too much work for me to allow them to own feminism. White people, of all gender expressions, have access to far too many resources and that must change. The March for Black Women is about power and transformation; not peddling to the status quo.
C.: Can you briefly talk about events that will take place during the event?
CC: The March for Black Women is making space for collective healing, conversations, mobilization and relationship building for the sake of our collective liberation. There’s a healing village available to Black women the night before the march. We begin very early in the morning and will converge with the March for Racial Justice in the afternoon.
C.: Anything else you want to share?
CC: The work does not end with our one day in Washington, D.C. We are committed to be the long-term struggle for Black liberation, here and across the world. The March for Black Women comes at a critical time in this country’s history. Black women have a vision that can bring us all to liberation in the other side of this, people just have to listen and take action.
You can learn more about the March for Black Women at mamablack.org.