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EXCLUSIVE: Women's March Organizers Aim To 'Reclaim Their Time' At Detroit Convention

“Reclaiming Our Time” is the official theme of the Women's March 'Women’s Convention' next month in Detroit.
EXCLUSIVE: Women’s March Organizers Aim To ‘Reclaim Their Time’ At Detroit Convention
Patrick Melon

Back in January, millions of women marched en masse in the nation’s capital and beyond, one day after the inauguration of America’s 45th president, Donald Trump.

Now, leaders behind the historic Women’s March have designated “Reclaiming Our Time” as the official theme of its forthcoming Women’s Convention next month in Detroit.

The two-day confab, slated for October 27-29 at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, is expected to bring together thousands of women, femmes and allies of all backgrounds. The weekend is being billed as one of strategy sessions, workshops, forums and intersectional movement building ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, organizers said.

The theme stems from Rep. Maxine Waters’ now famous “reclaiming my time” statement, which went viral after the California Congresswoman spoke during a House committee hearing in July. Waters was among the elected officials, celebrities, and activists who addressed crowds at the massive Women’s March held in Washington, D.C. on January 21, 2017.

In an exclusive statement to ESSENCE, the outspoken Democrat said she was “very excited” that “Reclaiming Our Time” will be the official theme of the Women’s Convention.

“When I spoke at the Women’s March…I was inspired by the movement I saw unfolding—millions of women coming together to stand up and fight back. With every decision this administration has made in the months since, things have become worse for our country, but our resistance has become stronger and bolder,” said Waters. “I am thrilled to continue my support of this intersectional movement as we gear up for the Women’s Convention. More than ever, we need all women and allies to come together to collectively reclaim our time.”

Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez served as national co-chairs of the grassroots Women’s March, one of the largest demonstrations in history. They collaborated with national committee members such as logistics head Janaye Ingram, music director Toshi Reagon, and youth/family coordinator Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs. A network of volunteers, coordinators and supporters were also part of the organizing efforts. 

Since January, the Women’s March has built on that momentum, aiming to create a movement. In July, the organization staged a 17-mile protest march from the headquarters of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to the Justice Department.  Earlier this month, Women’s March leader Bland was among those who marched more than 100 miles from Virginia to D.C., to stand up against white supremacy following rallies by neo-Nazis, the Klan and others in Charlottesville, Virginia this summer. 

Heather Heyer was killed when a car reportedly driven by an alleged alt-right sympathizer plowed into a group of counter-protestors. At least 19 individuals were injured. 

Women’s Convention organizers hope to harness energy from January’s march and subsequent protests that dovetail with the nation’s tempestuous political and social climate to expand intersectional movement building and encourage voter engagement. They’re aiming to assemble first-time activists and movement leaders, rising political stars who reflect the country’s shifting demographics, and women who’ve organized sister marches, huddles, rallies and various resistance actions.

“We are honored to have the voice of Congresswoman Waters play such a pivotal role in our convention,” said Mallory, co-president of the nonprofit Women’s March. “It really captures the essence of this convention and why we believe this is such an important moment to convene, make our voices heard, and show that the rise of the woman is the rise of the nation.”

Since the 2016 election, thousands of women have expressed interest in running for office and countless others continue to amplify their voices.

“Five million of us marched in cities across the globe in January for our shared belief in a world that is equitable, just and safe for all – one in which the human rights and dignity of each person is protected and our planet is safe from destruction,” said Bland, Women’s March co-president.

“Since the march, we have forged a powerful resistance network. …Now it is time to channel that energy and activism into tangible strategies for change and concrete wins in 2018.”

The Women’s Convention will cost $295 to register and $125 for students; reportedly more than 1,000 people have signed up so far. Special guests and headliners will be announced at a later date.

Organizers hope to draw thousands of people and have them “leave inspired and motivated, with new connections, skills and strategies for working towards collective liberation for women of all races, ethnicities, ages, abilities, sexual identities, gender expressions, immigration statuses, religious faiths, and economic statuses.”

Scholarships are available, including one named for Heyer.

For more information, visit www.womensconvention.com