What’s It Like To Organize A Women’s March?
Here in Spokane, we had just had the 2018 Women’s Persistence March, where thousands of people came out to champion various women’s issues and progressive causes. From my layman’s perspective, the vibe was bolder, braver, and even more determined than it had been at the 2017 Women’s March. The signs were saltier, the messages clearer, and it seemed that we’d all moved past our collective surprise and excitement at how enthusiastically our community showed up for this event. In other words, the novelty had worn off; now, we mean business.
Leading up to the event, I knew I wanted address it here on The Woodsy, but I wasn’t sure how. I considered various posts, round-ups, even journal-style reflections. None of it felt right. Then, things came together when I had a chance to check-in with Amanda Speer-Mead, one of the organizers of Spokane’s 2017 Women’s March.
Amanda is an educator, writer and activist originally from Montana, who’s also in the midst of a really amazing writing project called New Things Scare Me (great title, right?). I first met her last spring when both of us were interested in supporting a local political candidate. To be totally honest, I was a little starstruck when I heard she was one of the people behind the Spokane March. I played it cool and didn’t ask her for an autograph or anything, but I was humbled to be in a small group with her. It’s impressive — no, inspiring — that a small team can have such a major impact on so many people with their efforts.
Below is a quick Q&A I got to have with Amanda. My favorite takeaway is the idea that some of the people behind some of the most successful projects, like the march, are learning as they go. -Dena
Give us an idea about how it felt to be a part of organizing the Spokane Women’s March:
[After the 2016 election,] I think many of us felt completely helpless and hopeless. I needed an outlet to show my rage, and a place in which I could show my true colors — of intersectional feminism, anti-racism, anti-ableism, etc. Helping to organize Spokane’s Women’s March was the perfect outlet for all of that.
Did you and the other organizers have a sense of how significant the day would be?
I knew the day itself would be significant at the macro level, but I wasn’t prepared for how significant it would be in our community. Before the event we had enough interest on Facebook and elsewhere that we thought we better reserve a back-up room just in case the ballroom got filled. The moment we found out that not only was the ballroom at capacity, but so was the overfill room, AND they had reached capacity in the mezzanines/hallways, and there were STILL thousands of people outside, it was completely surreal.
What was your experience like on the actual day of the march?
My experience of the actual day was a lot like a wedding day, honestly. You prepare for months, and then it goes by in a flash. There was this moment of serenity and calm before we opened the doors when the six or seven of us were setting everything up. We just all looked at each other and thought, “This is it.” And then it was insanity after that. My favorite moment was definitely leading the march out with my wife, our foster son, my best friend Rita, and her son. Two queer white women, a queer woman of color, all standing together and raising future feminist men. Then a delegation of indigenous women showed up to lead out with us, and they were strangers to us prior to this moment, but suddenly everything took on a greater significance and I realized we were all making history. It was just the coolest experience of my life. I was so awe-struck by the whole thing that I literally couldn’t think of a single chant, so thank god for the Indigenous Women Rise and Planned Parenthood delegations, because they ended up having to lead nearly every chant.
How did you feel about feminism before the event vs. how do you feel about it now?
I would say the biggest change in my own work in feminism between before and after the Women’s March is that I am much more conscious of how white the construct of feminism has been for so long, and how desperately we need intersectionality to truly move forward. I always knew it intellectually, but the election and the March really solidified that feminism is bullshit if it isn’t intersectional. And TRULY intersectional. White women need to show up. We need to put our money where their mouth is, and sometimes we need to shut up. I’m working on all of that on a personal level more so than I was before.
Thanks again, Amanda ~heart emoji~
And everyone else, do check out her writing project, where she’s “committed to trying one new thing a week in an attempt to take on depression and apathy.” We can all learn a little from that, I think.