A progressive state senator from Maryland is organizing a concert on Inauguration Day to raise money for liberal causes she thinks will be threatened under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
The UnNaugural Concert will take place the night of Jan. 20 at Montgomery College’s 500-seat Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring, while thousands of Trump supporters and Republican faithful from across the country are celebrating downtown at inaugural balls.
Ticket prices range from $25 for students to $250 for VIP seating, with general admission running $100. Proceeds will go to five national advocacy groups that promote abortion rights, civil liberties, environmental protection, gay rights and gun control.
Performers include five largely regional acts known for activist music: the Grammy Award-winning a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, Emma’s Revolution, Brother Sun, Josh White Jr. and Tret Fure.
“I wanted an opportunity for like-minded people to get together for healing and inspiration on a day when the new administration is going to be talking about its agenda,” said Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery County).
Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, one of the groups benefiting from the concert, described the event as a “creative and values-based response to what for many is an election that is threatening to bring a lot of changes to the progress that has been made by organizations across the country.”
Other groups benefiting from the UnNaugural Concert include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the League of Conservation Voters and Planned Parenthood.
Organizers hope to attract locals and visitors traveling to the area for the Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington, the highest-profile anti-Trump protest planned, which organizers say could draw hundreds of thousands of attendees.
Joe Cluster, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, compared the protest efforts to the actions of conservatives after Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008.
“I have no problem with it,” he said. “They should be fighting back. That’s what we did. We worked to beat Democrats all over the country, and now we have 33 Republican governors, the majority in the Senate and House, and the presidency.”
Similar efforts have sprung up throughout the nation since the Nov. 8 election, including a “revival meeting” featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep.-elect Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) that drew more than 800 people to a civic center in Silver Spring, Md., last month.
Raskin, who served in the Maryland Senate in Annapolis with Kagan before being elected to Congress, is scheduled to speak at the UnNaugural Concert as well.
“My basic message to people is that we’re not a marginal minority — we’re the majority in exile,” he said, referring to Hillary Clinton’s popular-vote victory. “We’re clearly going to be the opposition party in Congress, but I believe we’re speaking for most Americans on Day One.”
Although Trump’s positions on key policy issues have been hard to pin down, he has said that climate change is a hoax, that he would defund Planned Parenthood, that he opposes gun-free zones, that states should be able to decide whether same-sex marriage is legal and that Muslim immigrants should go through ideological screening as part of an “extreme vetting” process.
Each concert attendee will receive a token to place in one of five containers representing the groups that benefit from the show, allowing guests to choose which organizations they support. Concertgoers can also place their tokens in a sixth container, which will allow them to divide the proceeds evenly among the groups.
Raskin explained the purpose of the concert by offering a twist on first lady Michelle Obama’s “When they go low, we go high” catchphrase.
“When they go into office, we go out and organize,” he said. “It’s important for our people to feel strong and to stand strong.”
Correction: Earlier versions of this article gave an incorrect location for Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center, which is in Silver Spring.