It's Been One Year Since The Women's March. This Is What The Movement Looks Like Now.

We talk to five organizations from around the country about how they've continued to #resist.

On Jan.21, 2017, 4.1 million people came out in the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Held in all 50 states and on seven continents, the Women's March was a demonstration in support of women's rights, in light of the President Donald J. Trump's inauguration the day before.

Many who participated in the march were political activists, but even more were people who, until the march, had been sitting on the sidelines. For many, that moment was the answer to the previously rhetorical question, "if not now, when?"

Afterward, maintaining that momentum became the question organizers of the march most desperately sought the answer to. Through connecting with activists around the country, they created local organizations of women who had first connected through the march and were eager to continue resisting.

While the movement may have started on Jan. 21, 2017, it certainly did not end on that date. Across the country, throughout the year, local chapters have been holding rallies and fundraising for causes and amplifying the voices of those who are so often looked over. Now, one year after the Women's March on Washington, we checked in with those groups to learn how that moment has become a movement.

San Luis Obispo, California

Halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco is San Luis Obispo, Calif. The rural town is relatively small – for California – at about 40,000 people. But that doesn't mean the town has been unaffected by the politics and policies championed by a White House 2,800 miles away.

"Part of our mission is really to build bridges and make connections and support our local community as a way to create national change and as a way to be part of the national dialogue," Women's March SLO co-organizer Dawn Addis told A Plus.

To this, Addis points to the story of Neofita Valerio-Silva. After entering the country without documentation, Valerio-Silva built a life in SLO under the awareness of ICE for 20 years. On Jan. 3, she was deported to Tijuana despite a massive social media and awareness campaign on the part of the Women's March SLO and other groups. She was a mother and a homeowner. Her son, who was away studying to be a teacher, had to leave school to take care of his 16-year-old sister.

For Addis, telling stories like Valerio-Silva's is one of the most important things that the Women's March SLO can do to inspire others to take action. Last January, the group brought 10,000 people to the streets of the city, and since then, the group has hosted rallies, vigils and fundraisers and worked alongside their local congressman to host a town hall.  

"It's been one of the joys, honestly, about getting to be part of Women's March has been getting to see all the different ways there is to participate in democracy," Addis said.

This Saturday, the group is hosting one of 20 events across the state of California to commemorate and build on the momentum of last year's march. Featuring speakers from communities that have oft-been under attack in the past year, including a woman who grew up in the segregated south and an anti-fracking advocate, the rally, the group hopes, will inspire others to "march" into the voting booth in the November elections.

"We want to create a movement where we're supporting one another," Addis said.

The support from the community continues to be a motivating factor for both Addis and the Women's March SLO on an organizational level.  

"Just today, we got a letter from somebody who said that they're grateful for the work that we're doing and they're grateful for the way we've stepped up," she said. "Hearing from people who felt like they don't have power and that they couldn't make a difference and then coming to our event and saying, 'I now feel like I'm part of something,' that's huge for me."

Denver, Colorado

For the Women's March anniversary event being held this Saturday, March On Colorado is hoping to use the moment to highlight those voices that are typically drowned out in the larger conversation. With the theme #HearMyTruth, the group has invited non-binary individuals and women from other marginalized groups to tell their stories in their own words to the Colorado community.

"We like to elevate those who are heroes without the pomp and circumstance," March On Colorado board member Tish Beauford told A Plus. "We want to bring a face that would you not recognize and put a cause to it."

After last year's event brought out 150,000 people, creating an opportunity to use their platform to highlight diverse voices was a priority for many on the board and in the creation of the board itself. This fellow board member Lisa Cutter notes the past year has not been without its difficult moments but working through those moments is what has made their organization stronger. 

"If we can all come together from different backgrounds, and yeah, there will be bumps in the road, but if we can try together to work through it, it's so rewarding," Cutter told  A Plus.

This effort has not gone unnoticed by the community. Cutter said she recently received an email from an individual who works with The Arc, an organization that works with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, about how this is the first time they can remember someone from their organization being given the opportunity to speak to such a large audience. 

March On Colorado stresses that none of this would be possible without others informing and guiding them as they prepare for this year's event, including the volunteers who are helping plan the event, and those who continue to show up.

"We're conduits," said Beauford. "We're messengers. Everyone has a voice. We're just all riding the same wave and we just have to continue to uplift each other and pull each other in the right direction."

New York, New York

Courtesy of Run 4 All Women
Courtesy of Run 4 All Women

In 2016, when Alison Desir was thinking about the Women's March, she knew three things: she wanted to be there, she wanted to gather her community together and she wanted to do something big. Those ambitions would result in Desir, along with four friends, running the over 240-mile distance from Harlem to Washington, D.C. while raising over $100,000 for Planned Parenthood and a movement that is showing women across the country how fitness can be used as social change.

Desir told A Plus that she has always been active, but it wasn't until she fell into marathon running in 2012 during a period of depression that she realized the benefits of running go beyond the physical ones.

"I started to see that running was more powerful than just being fast and doing well and winning but it was really a way to connect my physical health with my mental health," Desir said. "I was always running for something more than just the run itself."

Desir's self-described "crazy little idea" started on Jan. 18 outside her home in Harlem. Before taking off, she had set up a GoFundMe with a goal of $40,000. Three hundred people showed up to run part of the way with the group, and within four days, the fundraiser had met its goal.

Courtesy of Run 4 All Women
Courtesy of Run 4 All Women

As the story of the run started to go viral, Desir opened the route to the public and people started showing up. They brought coffee and oranges or wanted to run with them. Desir remembers that after posting on social media that one of her friends had a hankering for some Oreos, a stranger showed up along the route four miles later with a package. Over the course of the journey, over 1,000 people showed up to run with the group.

After January, Run 4 All Women launched an ambassador program and hosted a summit to help those women launch their own Run 4 All Women chapters across the country. The group worked to reach even more women through releasing a documentary about the run online. In August, the group held five races that raised an additional $60,000 for Planned Parenthood, and this year, the group is highlighting the midterm elections by holding their own races.   

"The same way that candidates are running for election, we'll be running on behalf of them," Desir said.

While the program is still in its preliminary stages, Midterm Run, as race is called, will support 11 candidates in six states with a fundraising goal of $3 million

"I hope that it shows people that no matter what you have access to, no matter what your skill is, no matter what you're passionate about, you can turn that into activism," Desir said of Run 4 All Women. "Activism isn't just liking statuses on social media or reposting things. It's really about making yourself uncomfortable, putting yourself out there, being clear about your goals and bringing other people in with you.

"I want women to see that no matter where you are, no matter what you do, there's a way that you can be involved in resistance."

Minnesota

What the organizers of the Women's March Minnesota want more than anything else from those who attend their Hear Our Voices anniversary event this Sunday is commitment. So much so that they're asking anyone who shows up at their rally to fill out a digital or paper commitment card, part of which the group will keep in order to be able to follow up with attendees in six months.

"We're really trying to build a sense of community here in Minnesota and help educate all of those who showed up on January 21st, 2017," Alicia Donahue, co-organizer of the Women's March Minnesota told A Plus.

Jan. 21, 2017 was a historic day for Minnesota. The 100,000 people who gathered in St. Paul marked the largest political rally in the state's history. Since then, the group has been focused on creating partnerships with other nonprofits and helping to support the work of those organizations. This year, that work included marching again this summer after the acquittal of Officer Yanez for his involvement in the death of Philando Castile.

"The entire year was focusing around amplifying the voices of the incredible organizations and activists who have been doing this work for centuries and decades long before us and have been fighting tirelessly to advocate for justice," Donahue said. "We see part of our responsibility to those 100,000 people is to help educate them on the issues that are in front of communities of color and things that a White woman may or may not have ever really truly understood."

Going forward, the chapter is focused on the upcoming elections. With the resignation of Al Franken, both of Minnesota's Senate seats, as well as Congressional representatives and the governorship, are on the ballot this November.

"With all of that happening, we really felt that is was critical that we renew the momentum from the March and that we go from a march to a movement," Donahue said. "To watch these women leaders really come into their own and decide that their voice matters, that the perspective that they have to give to their community was important and the empowerment that they've had as a result of this has been incredible to see."

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

When the idea to form a "huddle," a group of women that would meet in person to discuss how they could make actionable change in their community was presented to Peg Moulton, she was more than a little skeptical.

To the mother of three daughters, and a self-described introvert, putting her address online and hosting a group of strangers in her home seemed like a crazy idea. But until a few months ago, driving the four and half hours from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. with two of her friends was not something Moulton had ever found herself compelled to do before.

The results of the November, 2016 election, though, changed things for Moulton.

"I'm 55 years old," Moulton told A Plus. "I have worked and loved working my entire life. The rhetoric about women during that election was so distressing to me in that I thought, I have worked all those years and I thought that it was going to be better for my daughters. And I felt that we were back to square one."

Women's March in Washington, D.C.
Women's March in Washington, D.C. Cate Matthews / A Plus

Those hours she spent marching in D.C. would change things again. Being surrounded by like-minded people who were also rejecting the new occupant of the White House's agenda was a "total life reset" for Moulton. When she returned home, Moulton wanted to continue taking action.

Which is how she found herself registering online as an organizer and hosting the first meeting of the CJP Huddle – named for the two friends she traveled with to D.C. – on Feb. 10. The group of 15, half of whom Moulton knew, half of whom she didn't, decided that since they lived in a state with heavily gerrymandered districts, including the one in which they were all registered to vote, that particular issue would be the focus for their next year of action, including working to have a Democrat stand in election against the Republican incumbent Tim Murphy. They hoped to host challengers in the election at their group meetings and soon some began protesting at Murphy's office regularly in an effort they called "Mondays with Murphy."

"I vote; I have always voted," Moulton said. "I have voted for Democrats, Republicans and third-party candidates, but I was not political. I did not have signs in my yard. I did not buy T-shirts. But the issues became too important, and the Women's March sort of showed you a way forward."

In October 2017, Murphy resigned from Congress, and his seat will be filled in a special election on March 13. A Democrat is on the ticket for the first time since 2012.

This weekend, Moulton will be participating in her second Women's March, this time in Pittsburgh, but still with two friends, both from her huddle. One is a friend she's known for years. One she met this year.

Cover image via Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com.

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