Seattle is expected to host the third-largest resistance gathering in the country this Saturday, with organizers expecting more than 50,000 people to attend the Womxn’s March on Seattle in solidarity with a similar march on the nation’s capital.
The biggest women’s march in the country on Saturday will be in Washington, D.C. And Los Angeles likely will be second.
Organizers of the Seattle event — which will be a march, rally and organizing effort — expect to be third.
They’ve been working to attract as many people as possible to create an epic and irrefutable show of support for people who may be threatened by a Trump presidency.
Women’s march schedule and logistics
Saturday, Jan. 21
Rally begins at 10:30 a.m.
March through downtown to Seattle Center begins at 11 a.m. It’s expected to be 3.6 miles long and take three to four hours. As a security precaution, the exact route won’t be released until shortly before the event. However, organizers said the route will be accessible to people who use motorized and nonmotorized mobility vehicles, as well as strollers. All people who believe that women’s rights are human rights are invited to participate, organizers say.
And they’re anticipating a crowd of about 50,000, who they hope will walk in a powerful, silent mass from Judkins Park and Playground in the Central District to Seattle Center.
“I think it speaks to people’s passion, desperation and resolve to take action and get involved,” said Joy Gerhard, one of the event’s organizers, who has watched as the number of attendees soared 20,000 in the last week alone. “It’s not enough now to sit on the sidelines and be frustrated.”
To Gerhard and the other organizers, the march is just a first step.
Even more important is connecting participants to social-justice and advocacy groups, so the energy of the resistance movement reverberates well beyond Saturday.
“Let’s be clear,” said organizer Lisa Price. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Marches alone can be therapeutic, she said, but they’re also frustrating. She remembers walking back from a protest march years ago and saying to herself, “Well, it was cathartic to yell, but what now?”
“We want as many of the marchers as possible to be transformed into activists for an organization they feel passionate about,” she added.
Organizers have invited advocacy groups to Judkins Park and Playfield, where the march will begin, and they’ve asked participants to come at 10 a.m., so they’ll have plenty of time to talk with them.
As participants arrive at the park, they will be asked what people or policies they think are most threatened by a Trump administration and will then be directed to one or more of nearly 150 organizations on hand, said organizer Gerhard.
“Getting people connected locally is how we will make the difference nationally,” she said.
To date, the participating groups include many focused on women’s reproductive rights; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights; environmental concerns; wage equality; and immigration issues.
Planned Parenthood is one of them — a group that has received such an outpouring of support that Cyndy Wilson, hired just before the election to work on outreach, said all she’s had time to do is to coordinate requests to help.
She said she “hit the ground running in a way I hadn’t anticipated — in a totally different political climate.”
As they planned the march, organizers thought a lot about the messages it will send — and worked to avoid the historical underrepresentation of minorities in the women’s movement.
About half the leaders of the Seattle march are women of color, said Gerhard, and women of color represent the majority of those who will speak at the pre-march rally.
The local group also opted to spell “women” with an “x” to acknowledge the impact of discrimination based not only on gender but also race, sexual orientation, nationality, faith, class and disability — and how those different forms of discrimination often intersect, overlap and reinforce each other.
They’re also asking participants to rely primarily on signs, works of art and their presence, rather than their voices, to express their views during most of the 3.6-mile trek from Judkins Park to Seattle Center.
The idea for a silent march came from a desire to pay homage to similar practices from the civil-rights era, organizers said, plus it demonstrates unity and ensures that some voices don’t drown out others.
The planning for the Seattle march hasn’t been free of the tension that has arisen in other cities, mostly over racial issues. But Price said the bottom line is this:
“Everybody is wanted. Everybody is needed. These are extraordinary circumstances we are under. There is a huge amount of insecurity about what will happen. We will adapt and get into a scale of activism that will empower people.
“This is the ‘doing’ part and it is just the beginning.”