Women's March in California canceled over concerns it would be 'overwhelmingly white'

The post was met with a mix of responses, with some thanking the group for its decision and others expressing frustration and calling on organizers to change their minds.
Image: Women's March in Washington
Hundreds of thousands march down Pennsylvania Avenue during the Women's March in Washington.Bryan Woolston / Reuters file

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By Daniella Silva

A California Women’s March was canceled because of concerns that its participants have been “overwhelmingly white,” the march’s organizers said.

Organizers announced Friday that the Women’s March would not take place in Eureka, in Humboldt County, California, on Jan. 19 as previously planned due to issues of representation.

“Up to this point, the participants have been overwhelmingly white, lacking representation from several perspectives in our community,” a post on the march’s Facebook page read. “Instead of pushing forward with crucial voices absent, the organizing team will take time for more outreach.”

The decision was made after conversations with local organizers and supporters of the march, according to the statement, which was posted by Facebook user Beth Ann Wylie.

“Our goal is that planning will continue and we will be successful in creating an event that will build power and community engagement through connection between women that seek to improve the lives of all in our community,” the post said.

The Eureka group does not appear to be an official chapter of Women’s March California.

The post was met with a mix of responses, with some thanking the group for its decision and others expressing frustration and calling on organizers to change their minds.

A statement posted to the group's Facebook page on Monday said organizers were moving their focus toward an event on March 9 around International Women’s Day, "to ensure that the people most impacted by systems of oppression have an opportunity to participate in planning."

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"We recognize the majority of our current leadership team is white, and planning for this event has been centered around our experiences," the statement said. "In recognizing our failure to put enough effort into being more inclusive, we are attempting to make things right by taking this time to create a more balanced leadership team."

"Our goal moving forward is to ensure the voices of women of color are heard and centered when we come together for the furtherance of the rights and protection of women," the statement said.

U.S. Census Bureau data from July estimate that Humboldt County is more than 74 percent non-Hispanic white.

The move comes after Women’s March Chicago said it would not be marking its third year with another march. The group said in November that because of the time, money and effort spent into an October March to the Polls event ahead of the midterm elections that it would not be hosting another march in January.

The October march drew an estimated 100,000 people to Grant Park in Chicago, the group said in a statement on Facebook.

Instead, the group said Saturday it was celebrating its third anniversary by calling on people to "spearhead an action in your community that helps people feel safe, included, respected and represented, while encouraging others to activate."

Millions of men and women across the world have turned out for Women’s Marches over the last two years, but even from its inception there were questions about its racial representation and inclusiveness.

As the national Women’s March organization prepares for its third round of annual rallies in Washington, D.C., and across the U.S. it has been rocked by divisions within the broader movement.

The leadership of Women’s March, Inc. has been roiled in controversy over its ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and claims of anti-Semitism.

The Chicago march said in a follow up post on its Facebook page that the decision not to hold back-to-back marches was made last spring and was not based “on the actions or activities of any other organization — including Women’s March Inc.” The group has previously highlighted that it has never been affiliated with Women’s March, Inc.

Teresa Shook, one of the original founders of the national Women’s March, called for Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez, the national co-chairs of Women’s March, Inc., to step down.

Shook said in a post on Facebook in November that the co-chairs “have steered the Movement away from its true course.”

The group has said it rejects “anti-Semitism in all its forms.”

“We want to say emphatically that we do not support or endorse statements made by Minister Louis Farrakhan about women, Jewish and LGBTQ communities,” the group said in a post in November.