Ask the Women's March to Reconsider Sen. Sanders' Role

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We, the undersigned, urge the Women’s March to reconsider giving Sen. Bernie Sanders a headlining role at the Women’s Convention on October 27. The convention represents the first gathering of its kind for 40 years, putting it at the center of an intersectional feminist movement. For an event of this kind to center a white, male politician over emerging women leaders, particularly those of color, is very disappointing to us.

 We showed up in droves from around the country to march in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, and many other cities because we believe that this country cannot move forward without women’s voices and women’s rights. We marched because the 2016 election put an admitted sexual predator in the White House, and made women in this country and around the world less safe. That day was filled with anger, but also with a deeply shared hope that in resisting together, we could save our country from the devastating impact of a Trump administration. And since that day, we have made phone calls, organized meetings, donated scarce earnings, hounded elected officials, written letters and emails, launched political campaigns, and marched again and again to defend the rights of immigrants, LGBT individuals, people of color, all people who need health care, and all those who share our fragile planet. We work with progressive organizations, including Move On, Indivisible, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, National Adapt, Working Families, Voto Latino, ACLU and Black Lives Matter.

 The unity and common purpose we felt during the march and since then have helped sustain us this year. In our daily work, we are able to move forward beyond the Democratic primary, working alongside those who continue to revere Sen. Sanders, because the need for a united front is too great to fight about the past. The lives of too many people are at stake.

 Leaders of most progressive movements have understood that there is nothing to be gained by stoking factional divisions among natural allies at this time. By giving Sen. Sanders a high-profile role, the Women’s Convention is centering a divisive figure, especially for women and minorities. He has continually attacked the Democratic Party, downplayed the importance of majority Black Democratic voters in southern states, dismissed Planned Parenthood as part of the “Establishment,” and contributed to a decades-long campaign of deception about the record of Hillary Clinton.

 We also oppose this choice from a feminist standpoint. We live in a country where women are vastly underrepresented in seats of power. The legacy of misogyny and downplaying women’s voices had a strong role in deciding last year’s election. Today, critical decisions about women’s health and rights are being made without women in the room. Yes, we need men as allies, but more critically, we need women at the center of discussions on our rights and our future.

We feel that by inviting Sen. Sanders, the organizers of the Women’s Convention have turned their backs on any sense of unity that the Women’s March embodied in order to further one person’s political career.  We hereby ask that you reconsider to avoid splintering the amazing and powerful movement you have helped create.

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