The Women’s March got so much attention in the days after Donald Trump’s inauguration, it was impossible for anyone — including the man living in the White House — to ignore.
But as the march prepares for its 2019 edition in Washington, D.C., some comments others deemed anti-Semitic by a few of the early organizers of the march are likely keeping many women away.
Helen Krim, however, isn’t concerning herself with what Washington is doing. The Women’s March Alliance member is on a mission to make sure the Women’s March on New York City is still part of the solution.
“I was so inspired in 2016 by this amazing group of women who were so young, so intelligent,” Krim said. “They’re amazing, and I was very proud of being part of them.”
The next year, however, there were problems at the top of the march’s organization team. Activist Vanessa Wruble claimed other march leaders pushed her out because she was Jewish. She also felt that some comments made by another organizer, Tamika Mallory about racial privilege Jewish women — comments Wruble felt were anti-Semitic.
Mallory denied that characterization of those comments to The New York Times late last year.
Wruble has since co-founded of her own women’s group, March On, separate from the Women’s March.
But there’s a difference between what’s happening in Washington when it comes to the march, and what will take place in Manhattan this weekend, Krim said, despite the alleged comments.
“Obviously, I reject them,” Krim said. “I think all human beings deserve equal rights and opportunities, and that include Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, people of color, Hispanics, LGBTQIA, and people who are disabled. We have to raise a voice and say these people count, too.”
The local marches are different, and a few cities — like Philadelphia — have either created their own local groups, or joined up with Wruble’s March On.
“By presenting themselves as the leader of all the local marches, there is an implication that their views are shared by the local marches,” Krim said. “But the local marches have never been controlled or integrated with the Women’s March in D.C.”
Krim is part of Women’s March Alliance in New York City, which is separate from the Women’s March. She has supported efforts in the Big Apple since 2017, first as one of the organizers and then later working to register voters.
She’s also active politically, an outspoken member of the Democratic Party and the Northwest Bronx Indivisible, an advocacy group that works against the Trump administration. This type of work, Krim said, is important to the future.
“Well as long as this is a democracy,” Krim said, “the vote is our voice.”
However, Krim also uses her voice to ensure everything is in order in terms of the Jan. 19 Women’s March on New York City. The event kicks off at 10 a.m., at 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue, and solidifying logistics is important, but difficult.
“And making sure that everybody knows what to do, and that we have all the safety measures in place,” Krim said. “And we have medical teams on site, and that we have coordinated with the NYPD, who have been really wonderful.”
When it comes to diversity and inclusion, it’s no work at all, Krim said. When she thinks about the Women’s March Alliance, she sees it as a step toward a world her grandchildren will be safe in.
“They’re very inspiring,” she said. “They are an affirmation of human rights and a call for gender equality.”
Krim hopes movements like this can inspire a generation that respects both men and women, ending what she calls the ongoing toleration of discrimination in our society. Despite the confusion in leadership and the questionable comments from the Women’s March organizers, Krim is confident that this year’s numbers will be just as big as last year’s.
“I think we had 100,000 people signed up and we thought it might go to 150,000, but well over 500,000 people came, so you really can’t tell,” Krim said.
“It makes me feel inspired and hopeful because it means that people care. I just pray that it all goes well.”