One Facebook post by a retired attorney in Hawaii in November after the 2016 election surprised many by the way it stirred emotions in millions of women worldwide — so much that they took to the streets the day after the inauguration of President Trump. From social sharing to social movement, photojournalist Kisha Bari witnessed the transformation of the women and the movement. Inspired by the photographs taken of activist leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, Bari approached the women planning the March on Washington, driven by her desire to historically document their passion and contribution.
The planning, led by activists Paola Mendoza, Carmen Perez, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, began in New York and then moved to the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Meetings were held in multiple offices, on floors, in hallways and were focused on moving forward and getting it all done. Logistics and diversity were a priority. Bari documented the 25 core organizers and over 100 associate organizers, including strategic advisers, social media planners and hundreds of volunteers.
“Together the group of women were very powerful,” Bari said. “There was a sense of sisterhood in that office.” There was some anxiety, but Bari said there “were also super-excited moments like when they received a supportive phone call from someone they admired.” Bari recalled a memorable moment when the women began singing “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston when they were in a meeting.
At the Watergate Hotel, the organizers were careful to keep their identities to themselves to prevent any threat to the event. There were some tense moments when they rode elevators alongside inauguration attendees dressed in ball gowns and met Trump supporters in the hotel lobby or bar.
On the day of the march, Bari started at 5 a.m., photographing early meetings and walk-throughs. She said, “Watching the marchers arrive during that three-hour period was phenomenal, incredibly emotional. … I’ve never seen anything like it.”
While they initially planned only a one-day event, these women have continued organizing. On International Women’s Day, the organizers behind the Women’s March planned “A Day Without a Woman.” In an interview with the Associated Press, Women’s March spokeswoman Cassady Findlay said the organizers were inspired by the recent “Day Without an Immigrant” protests held last month. “We do all of this and get paid less than men, get sexually harassed, get inadequate family leave,” Findlay said. “We provide all this value and keep the system going, and receive unequal benefits from it.”
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