How and Why to Plan a Marchby Natalie Jacobs January 3, 2017
After the election was called for Donald Trump in the early morning of Nov. 9, 2016, Sarah Dolgen Shaftel spent a couple days feeling paralyzed. She also felt nervous about what the future might look like for her two-year-old daughter. But she didn’t let those feelings get comfortable.
By just a couple days after the election, the Women’s March on Washington, which was first called the Million Women March, had been scheduled for Jan. 21, the day after the presidential inauguration.
“I thought I would really love to go and be there,” Sarah says. “I felt such a calling to go and be in that space with these women and people marching. And quickly reality set in.”
Washington D.C. is a long way from San Diego, and coordinating travel around a surgeon-on-call-husband and a two-year-old-daughter can be difficult.
So Sarah created a Facebook event for a solidarity march in San Diego. The event grew to about 300 people and word got to Sarah that another local woman, Dawniel Stewart, had done the same thing. By Nov. 13 the two had joined forces. On Nov. 15, they put out a call on their newly created Facebook page for volunteers to join the planning committee. The online form shows 198 people signed up and Sarah says that about 200 people attended the first meeting, held at the ACLU’s downtown offices on Nov. 20.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Sarah says of the volunteer involvement. “I think there are so many people feeling all of this very deeply and we’re giving them an opportunity to do something with their feelings in a safe, peaceful way.”
In addition to their own march, Sarah says she and representatives from all of the California marches – eight in total – get on conference calls once or twice weekly to update each other on progress. The state-level organizers (from all 50 states) then report progress to those who are organizing the national march. With all of this coordinating, Sarah says each of the marches will still have their own “local flavor.”
“Everyone has their own fight and their own reason for showing up,” she adds. “But ultimately, we have to show up as one.”
Co-opting Hillary Clinton’s famous phrase from her 1995 speech in Beijing, China, San Diegans are marching under the banner “Women’s rights are human rights.” Exactly what that means, and if it translates into action for or against the new administration after the march is over will likely change from person to person.
There are also San Diego groups organizing to participate in the Washington march, like Leichtag Foundation which I reported on our website in early December. Aviva Paley, who is joining that delegation, says she sees this as “a really amazing opportunity to have our voice heard and really show what issues are important to us … [to] hopefully send a message to the Trump administration as to the rights we hold dear to us.”
While it is too early for the march to attach itself to any actionable legislation, the idea is for the visual of many thousands of people marching in different cities across the country to make a strong statement.
“It adds context to other things that are happening in society,” says David Dolgen, Sarah’s father who was involved in civil rights marches during his college years, in 1960s Washington D.C. “People understand that there are negative pressures on women’s rights – which are civil and human rights – today. Without becoming partisan you can create a national environment that says that this is unacceptable. It helps to support legislative and political issues that various individuals and advocacy groups may choose to support.”
“We need to rise up, show up and shine,” Sarah says. “We really need to get up and move and not be paralyzed because that won’t get us anywhere.”
The San Diego Women’s March takes place Jan. 21. Time and location details were still forthcoming at press time. For the most up-to-date information as planning progresses, visit the Facebook group and event page at facebook.com/sandiegomarch or on the group’s website sdwomensmarch.com