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A Day After Inauguration Protests, Demonstrators Prepare For Women's March

Jan 21, 2017
Originally published on January 21, 2017 2:27 pm
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And protesters have gathered in the nation's capital for the Women's March on Washington, D.C. But first, some people are taking part in rallies before the big rally. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang joins us now from an event organized by the NAACP at D.C.'s Metropolitan AME Church. I know that church, Hansi. How are you?

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: What's going on? What are people saying to you?

WANG: Well, the event is about to get under way here. There are more than a dozen folks, mostly African-American young people, fairly mixed between men and women. And this is billed as a youth rally called, Stay Woke And Fight. And I spoke to one of the attendees here. Her name is Rachel Lyons. She's 19, from Minneapolis, a student at George Washington University. I asked her why she wanted to come to this specific rally before the march. And here's what she said.

RACHEL LYONS: When people look at me, they see that I am black first, and then that I'm a woman. And, like, I feel like being black puts you at more of a disadvantage than being a woman in this country. And I mean, you think about, like, how white women actually voted for Trump, 53 percent. So for me, I just feel like my race is what puts me at the biggest disadvantage within this country. So I feel like first, I want to be with other women who know that and understand that and don't want to overlook that.

WANG: So again, that was Rachel Lyons, one of the marchers who will be out on the National Mall today for the Women's March.

SIMON: And, Hansi, what do you gather a lot of these protesters hope to achieve today?

WANG: Well, this march - some people are seeing it as a launch of a new era of activism, they say. And they want to mobilize against what they fear the Donald Trump administration will bring in terms of possible curtailing of voting rights and civil - other civil rights as well as criminal justice reform. And so it is a wide range of issues that people have on their minds, depending on who you're talking to.

SIMON: Now, Hansi, the event you're at there at the AME Church was organized by the NAACP. There has been controversy over how the Women's March was organized when it comes to the issue of race. What's your estimation of where things stand now?

WANG: Well, where things stand now is that we have national organizers. That is a fairly diverse group of women. And initially, it was only white women who organized this and first proposed this idea. I spoke to one of the national organizers. Her name is Carmen Perez. And here's what she said.

CARMEN PEREZ: The conversation around race has been intentional. I think our president, Donald Trump, in his campaign was extremely racist. And he was misogynistic. And he was talking about deporting and building a wall. We need to talk about these issues, and we need to have these courageous conversations. Some people call them difficult. I call them courageous.

WANG: And part of the courage that these organizers are asking participants to show here is to talk about racial inequities between white women and, for example, black and Latino women. And this is a discussion that really caused some discomfort for some of the mostly white participants who felt that this was possibly causing some divisions. Certainly, that's not the case going forward, where folks hope to bring about, you know, a more nuanced discussion about race and feminism and also a unified call to action.

SIMON: NPR's Hansi Lo Wang, thanks very much for being with us.

WANG: You're welcome, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.