Together for the Women of Tomorrow; The Women’s March Returns to Fargo-Moorhead
By: Ponny White, firstname.lastname@example.org
The future is women and “together” FM women are letting it be known. Saturday, Jan. 19 women, men and nonbinary locals joined the rest of the world to celebrate the future of women.
Printed on flyers, pamphlets and even t-shirts was the single phrase “together.”
The eight-letter word was handpicked by march organizers and the progressive advocacy group, Indivisible, to remind the public just how far women have come together and just how far they will go together.
While the phrase was short and sweet, it was rooted in a response to national and even local outcries against the Women’s March.
Nationally, leading up to 2019, the annual Women’s March was facing backlash for anti-Semitic claims after Women’s March Co-President Tamika Mallory was called out in February of 2018 for attending an anti-Semitic speech given by Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan.
According to an article released by Vox, during the speech the minister condemned those of the Jewish faith by saying, “The powerful Jews are my enemy.”
Despite a swift public apology letter from the Women’s March leaders, critics pointed out it was not the first time the Women’s March movement was divisive towards women of color, homosexual women and trans women.
Many cities across the nation canceled their march to boycott the movement for its lack of unity, but some cities like Fargo and Moorhead carried on with the march, even with drama of their own.
While anti-Semitism and minority bias were the national crisis surrounding the Women’s March, the local crisis brewing was a hot tea of politics.
Leaders of the local march organizing group, Indivisible, made plans to have Senator Heidi Heitkamp speak at the march. Many saw it as an honor and a treat to have the first female senator elected from North Dakota at the march, but some were not too pleased with this.
Some local critics, who wish to remain anonymous, say the senator should not have been added to the roster of speakers because she has not always been in political support of minority women.
Other critics in the community took their frustration towards the senator’s speech public, by taking to the Facebook comment section.
While there were critics, there were also supporters. Local organizer Nicole Mattson stood behind the decision to have Senator Heitkamp.
“1,982 people have served in the US Senate, less than 3 percent of them have been women,” Mattson said. “We are talking about how far we as women have come by working together, as well as areas where we still have a lot of work to do.”
For Mattson, Senator Heitkamp is a great candidate to deliver a speech on women empowerment and unity.
Ultimately, to the shock of both critics and fans, the U.S. senator did not attend the march due to the unfortunate passing of her mother-in-law.
Despite every controversy, members of the community came to the Fargo Civic Center to hear words of healing from Indigenous elder and healer JT Shining Oneside; words of hope from Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force speaker Amanda Vivier; words of unity from Rabbi Jamie Serber; words of peace from 2018 Moorhead Human Rights Award Recipient, Farhia Ali; and words of encouragement from Moorhead School Board member Rachel Stone.
Many more women speakers sprinkled the message of togetherness through the audience.
Politics didn’t stop them, and neither did the weather. After listening to the presenters, the crowd gathered their signs, their voices and their gloves to march along the blistering cold January streets of Fargo.
19-year-old Harvard student Marissa Diggs of Fargo said she was very grateful her hometown put on the march despite the weather and national setbacks.
“(‘Together’) was a really fitting theme,” said Diggs. “We are all human and as a woman of color I just think it’s good for not just me, but children to see women that are different standing together for all.”
Diggs’ sentiments were echoed by co-speaker from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, Amanda Strauss. Strauss said she was proud to stand amongst Indigenous Women and shine a light on an issue that has been overlooked for so many years by non-Native people.
“When we come together like this that makes a difference. We can’t do this alone, so we have to listen and support one another,” said Strauss.
Over 700 people and ten organizations attended the march and lent their attention to 12 speakers, each sharing a message of togetherness. The future is all women.