Women’s March in D.C. is filled with controversy: FL Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz won’t participate

Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Two years ago this weekend, more than half-a-million people descended on Washington D.C. for the first Women’s March. Similar rallies were held around Florida and around the country, as was the case in 2018.

But this year’s Women’s March, taking place Saturday, is filled with controversy after accusations of anti-Semitism have been levied at some of the original D.C. march organizers.

That’s prompted the Democratic National Committee and and other mainstream progressive organizations to back out as sponsors, and it’s why former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz says she won’t participate in tomorrow’s rally in Washington.

“While I still firmly believe in its values and mission, I cannot associate with the national march’s leaders and principles, which refuse to completely repudiate anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. I cannot walk shoulder to shoulder with leaders who lock arms with outspoken peddlers of hate,” the South Florida Congresswoman writes in an op-ed in USA Today.

“Instead, this weekend, I will join a movement of women around the nation who are participating in local marches that have distanced themselves from those national Women’s March leaders who still ally with bigotry.”

There are a number of women’s marches planned in Florida this weekend, with the biggest one scheduled to take place in Orlando.

There have been two incidents that have triggered the accusations that Women’s March organizers are anti-Semitic.

One occurred last month, when the publication Tablet reported that two Women’s March organizers, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez, had made anti-Semitic comments in initial planning meetings for the march, alleging that Jewish people were strongly responsible for the oppression of people of color. Mallory and the other organizers have denied that story.

Then this past week, Mallory declined to criticize Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has made several derogatory comments about Jews over the years.

Mallory disavowed the anti-Semitism, but refused to renounce Farrakhan, or the Nation of Islam, praising its work on anti-violence efforts in black communities.

As Wasserman Schultz notes in her op-ed, the Nation of Islam has been called a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has also backed out of supporting Saturday’s march in Washington D.C.

The controversy this week has led to consternation about how large this weekend’s Women’s March events will be around the country.

On the Women’s March Florida website, organizers released a statement last year expressing disappointment “in the National response to the condoning of Louis Farrakhan, who espouses misogyny, homophobia and anti-Semitism. But we will not abandon the Movement – we will fight for it.”

The conflicts that many in the women’s movement feel about the Saturday marches around the country was perhaps best articulated this week by New York magazine writer Rebecca Traister.

“As I watch individual shortcomings used to sap the potential energy of the gathering of thousands, to scare off elected officials from taking part, I feel tremendous frustration,” she wrote. “I want to scream: If you were going to march, march!”

In her op-ed, Wasserman Schultz says she will continue to embrace the original intent of the Women’s March, “to raise a collective voice to support our sisters across our great nation.”



  1. The “individual shortcomings” referred to by Rebecca Traister are indeed cause for concern, however the Fascist right is practiced at the art of deception in order to fragment any group that may pose a potential threat to their hate filled rhetoric. Progressives must be strategic in their approach and not allow the time worn tactics of division, denial and diffusion to impact our solidarity. Clean up your internal issues and remain united in the face of those committed to ending our country’s traditions of freedom, inclusion and equality. Find a way!!

  2. I Second your Motion, Peter Scalco.

    It IS unfortunate that those words were felt and spoken when Solidarity is a goal for anything that’s going to work.

    Don’t like what you believe you hear or see, don’t GO.

    No “leader” should spout anti-woman language of any sort. If necessary, please just bow out, no matter how urgent you think your “message” is. Enthusiasm needs to be pointed at solidarity that women/girls need badly. So, leave quietly, but Leave!

    We need to see each other as equals in the fight for equal treatment that is the passage of The Equal Rights Amendment against sex discrimination–male as well as female.

    As one of ERA’s national leaders and partnering with 3 other fine similar organizations working 18/7 for free for esp. women and little girls, but also our fine males, I say, Stand for Solidarity first and foremost. IT’S A WINNER, and we are now just ONE state short of passing ERA! 5 states are now vying to Be The One! 2passERA.org says it all.


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