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Women's March on Washington Continues to Gain Momentum

February 1, 2017

On Jan. 21, 2017,  just one day after President Donald J. Trump's inauguration, over 500,000 men and women marched in Washington D.C. in protest for women's rights.

 

According to USA Today, current estimates state that over 2.6 million people marched for the cause in all 50 states and 32 countries.

 

But the march is far from over.

 

Alex Newell Taylor is captain for the West Palm Beach chapter of the Florida Women's March.

 

A grassroots progressive mobilization network, Taylor said they are officially becoming a 501c4 non-profit organization and will continue to bring about activism, in partnership with the national Women's March movement.

 

"Florida currently has 17 different area groups, and expanding. Even before the march happened, we always planned to continuing on," Taylor said. "We have a policy platform of the issues we want to address that we are unveiling at our network of state-wide meetings taking place next Saturday. We’ll be continuing to harness the energy the everybody has to move forward and make change."

 

The carefully planned platform, similar to the national Women's March, will focus on women's rights, immigrant's rights, LGBTQ rights and environmental rights.

 

Their Feb 4. meeting will also unveil a methodology called "women’s way forward," which will contain a personal plan of action for daily activism that members can follow to evoke change in the community.

 

The West Palm Beach chapter also plans on working with the other Florida chapters and the national Women's March.

 

"We’ll have policies and projects we work on statewide, as well as the autonomy to work on local issues that really speak to us and our groups," Taylor said.

 

Women's March Florida also plans on working closely with other organizations in the area that have similar goals.

 

"We are very aware there are organizations that have been doing this kind of work for a long time. We feel like we have the energy and enthusiasm, whereas these organizations have the experience and the wisdom," Taylor said. "We want to be a resource and partner to them, for mobilizing people and for funneling people into other organizations that specifically address issues they are looking to work on."

 

Another activist group that has formed in response to the Women's March is South Florida Women "Rise Up.”

 

This group was formed by Shelly Sitton Tygielski, a Ft. Lauderdale resident who felt disengaged in politics until attending the Women's March in Washington D.C.

 

"The bottom line is that this movement itself, it’s not a one issue movement. It’s an inclusive movement...every person is marching for equality and women’s rights as a whole, and therefore human rights. They're one and the same." Tygielski said.

 

After returning from the march, Tygielski said she and her friends asked what they could do to further causes locally.

 

"The march did a great job giving you tools, resources and also action items for what we need to do on a daily basis. But when you don’t have a community that works together towards the same goals, you lose that level of accountability, that level of motivation, and it tapers off until you risk becoming silent again." Tygielski said.

 

A Facebook group was created to grow this form of community and hundreds of people joined within a few hours. Their first meeting, scheduled for Feb. 6, has over 1,400 people interested along with 500 people committed to attend.

 

South Florida Women "Rise Up" plan on meeting once a month, giving those in attendance the opportunity to become educated on local, state and national topics, in addition to bills needing support. Eventually the group hopes to be a platform for future candidates.

 

They also plan to give women and men the practical tools to do small acts of activism on a daily basis.

"We’ve got to be practical and super realistic about what we can accomplish. On a daily basis, we can call our congressman and our senators, and we can boycott Trump products," Tygielski said, "But, as a whole, I think how we’ll really make a change is in the next midterm election two years from now. That needs to be what we’re heading towards."

 

At this point, Tygielski says her group will not have a specific agenda. Their goal is to be inclusive of all issues, from Black Lives Matter, to the LGBTQ community and reproductive rights.

 

"The underlying theme goes back to equality and human rights, and once we have that, all the other issues really fall into place...whether people gravitate towards certain platforms, we can all still come together," Tygielski said, "We want to keep it broad, but also in line with what the overall national Women's March vision is around the country. So when we all meet again, which I think we will, we will have a louder voice."

 

Many news outlets, such as The New York Times, are calling the movement that the Women's March has inspired as the new Tea Party for the left.

 

The Tea Party, a conservative political movement in the Republican party that formed in 2009 after Barack Obama’s first presidential inauguration, used activism to combat social, economic and governmental issues with a democratic president in power.

 

Taylor and Tygielski said they had no issue with this comparison.

 

"If you take the Tea Party at face value, yes it is similar. It’s an uprising of the people, ordinary people not necessarily involving the politicians, and we are going to stand up and demand change. What you are seeing is a huge mobilization of people that weren't politically active before." Taylor said.

 

Tygielski had similar thoughts, and added,


"I think we should be the coffee party, we’re definitely stronger."

 

Tygielski and Taylor did differ on whether to engage Trump, as he commonly visits he West Palm Beach area.

Tygielski feels that marching in Trump's face will not change his mind on his platform or agenda and could likely anger him more.

 

Taylor says Women's March Florida will likely plan to partner with other activist groups, such as South Florida Activism, to make a stand.

 

"We hope to get out big numbers whenever he’s in town and let him know Palm Beach County does not stand for what he stands for."

 

For more information check out the Facebook pages:

 

Women's March Florida - West Palm Beach chapter
First meeting: Saturday, February 4th

 

Or

 

South Florida Women "Rise Up"

First meeting: Monday, February 6th

Photo courtesy Palm Beach Post

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