Two marches aimed at highlighting racial injustices – particularly those facing women of color – will converge Saturday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The March for Racial Justice and the March for Black Women will have independent rallies in the nation’s capital, then meet at Lincoln Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood before marching together to the Department of Justice and the Mall.
The timing of the simultaneous events was intentional.
Farah Tanis, executive director of Black Women’s Blue Print, said she heard about the March for Racial Justice and saw a need for a separate march dedicated to issues and barriers affecting black women.
“I said to myself that there will not be another March for Racial Injustice that does not truly center black women and their issues,” Tanis said.
Leaders of the marches worked together and say their missions complement one another. Dorcas Davies, an organizer of the March for Racial Justice, said organizers began planning the march in June after a Minnesota police officer was acquitted in the killing of Philando Castile, who was shot by police during a traffic stop while his girlfriend used her phone to record the bloody scene and stream it live.
“The reality is that these are everyday occurrences,” Davies said. “Charlottesville was horrific, but it’s not every day like that in Charlottesville. But for people of color, it’s like this every day.”
The March for Black Women will start at 9 a.m. at Seward Park in Capitol Hill. The March for Racial Justice will begin at 10 a.m. at Lincoln Park. The groups will meet at Lincoln Park at noon and march to the Department of Justice. They then will march to the Mall for another rally between Fourth and Seventh streets. March for Racial Justice organizers also planned smaller marches in cities across the country on Saturday.
The historic Women’s March on Washington the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration was criticized as being focused on white women and exposed racial, socioeconomic and political rifts within the feminist movement.
Tanis and Davies said it was important to have a demonstration focused on black women and issues such as domestic violence and wages that lag behind those of white women.
March for Black Women organizers also say the event will fill a gap the broad platform of the Women’s March couldn’t meet. Women’s March leaders, who come from diverse backgrounds, said they will participate in the March for Racial Justice in New York.
Tanis said she hopes men and women of all races join to fight for black women.
“After the election, black women were disappointed with our white sisters. More than 50 percent of white women voted for Trump,” Tanis said, noting about 95 percent of black women voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “Black women went out, and we voted our hearts and our conscious out at the election.”
Both marches are waiting for final permits from the National Park Service, which is typical.
Permit applications indicate the March for Racial Justice could have more than 2,000 participants, while the March for Black Women is expecting about 1,000 people.
The marches fall on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, a source of controversy among some Jewish activists. Organizers originally wanted to hold the March for Racial Justice on Sept. 9, the anniversary of the Stono Rebellion – the anniversary of the nation’s largest rebellion of slaves. The logistics of that date didn’t work out, so they turned to Sept. 30, the anniversary of the Elaine Massacre of 1919, where about 200 black people were killed by white law enforcement and citizens in Arkansas.
Organizers say they didn’t realize it was Yom Kippur when they scheduled the march.
“Our mistake highlights the need for our communities to form stronger relationships,” organizers of the March for Racial Justice wrote in a statement.