The fourth Denver Womxn’s March is set for Saturday morning. A lot has changed in America’s political and social landscape since the first time around, when crowds spilled into the city’s streets a day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The Denver march’s format and goals have changed, too. Here’s everything you need to know about how it will go down.
What, where and when:
The march begins at 10 a.m. at the corner of 14th Avenue and Bannock Street. Entertainment starts at 9:30 with dancers, drummers and singers. There’ll be a “flash mob” near the start of the line at 9:55. You’ll have to go to find out what that is!
There will not be a rally afterward at the Greek Theatre like in previous three years. Instead, organizers will disperse all of the activist groups throughout an “impact expo,” which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the McNichols Building. The expo highlights eight categories: voting, domestic violence, immigration, reproductive rights, climate change, women’s groups, gun safety and arts activism. More than 50 organizations will table at the event.
Organizers are also planning on two workshops and a live taping of the “Dear White Women” podcast between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. These events require tickets.
What prompted the change in format?
Angela Astle said she was “called to march” in 2017 and has since joined the event’s organizing committee. Participants drove this year’s changes, she said. Organizers ran a survey last year to see what else marchers would like to see during the march, and they found people wanted more ways to get involved in activism throughout the year.
Astle said the 2017 event came together really quickly — a reaction to the political moment. She noticed fewer people showing up in the following years, and many of those that did just marched and then returned to their normal lives.
“If we’re all walking around yelling at each other we won’t get anything done,” she said. “We’ve got to figure out how to channel that energy.”
She said the expo answers this demand and creates a space for “conversations and connections and healing.” It’s a way to shift people’s desire to do something from showing up with signs to direct participation.
Marching is great, she said, but “it’s even more important to get connected to the day-to-day work that’s happening in our own backyard.”
Astle views these changes as growth for the organization. It’s no longer about a spontaneous gathering in the street.
“This is a maturity that couldn’t happen in the first year,” she said.
What do others expect to see on Saturday?
Denverite sat in on an anti-Trump rally event Tuesday night to talk to some other people about the changes that have led up to Saturday’s action.
Rev. Amanda Henderson, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, said it’s been a long slog since 2016.
“I hope that we’re not too tired,” she said, thinking about Saturday. “I hope we’re not worn out.”
In the two months following the first Women’s March (that was the original spelling), there were protests nearly every Saturday at Civic Center Park. A lot of questions remained about how long the energy behind that activism could last, and Henderson’s comments speak to the fear that people have become desensitized.
Dana Miller, an activist who’s organized dozens of rallies through the years, said she doesn’t think interest has faded.
“Maybe the numbers have gone kind of down,” she said, “but I hesitate to say what that actually means.”
Instead, Miller said a lot of people drawn to the large, generalized actions in 2017 have found their “niche.” Rather than turning out to every rally or protest with a wide scope, she said people activated by Trump’s inauguration may still be active on individual issues.
“People have found where their groove is,” she said.
For her part, Astle said she’s not sure what to expect on Saturday.
“We kind of feel like this could be the march that could blow it out of the water,” she said.
But she didn’t rule out the possibility that things could go the other way.
“People are tired,” she said. “We’re feeling that burnout and yet we can’t stop.”
Sharon Bridgeforth, former president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, said turnout on Saturday is “absolutely” more important now, on the eve of an election.
“It’s a matter of life and death for people of color,” she said. “This election will determine what happens in this country for now on.”
She said she hopes people ramp up their civic engagement and bring progressive values “into the booth.” While she’s not sure if she’ll make it out on Saturday, she hopes a fresh wave of activism maintains some energy.
“It’s going to be important that we go out and tell people,” she said. “It is important that we all participate.”
Lorena Garcia, a contender for Sen. Cory Gardner’s seat in the upcoming election, said she’s “disappointed” that Womxn’s March organizers decided to strike the rally this year. Though she called it a “lost opportunity” — she is running a campaign, after all — she and Astle do agree on one point:
“It’s unfortunate that we still need to have these gatherings,” she said.
Garcia, Astle and others would like to see a different kind of political climate as we enter the fourth year of divisive policy and harsh rhetoric. New format or not, Astle said she hopes the Womxn’s March plays a role in some kind of large change in the status quo.
“We hope we’re having a party next year,” Astle said, “because it made an impact enough that we can actually celebrate.”