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In Detroit, Women's March Offshoot Builds On Resistance To Trump Agenda

Oct 29, 2017

Signs at Cobo for the Women's Convention
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Women's Convention in Detroit this weekend bills itself as the follow-up to the Women's March that brought massive crowds to city streets across the world the day after the president took office.


MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The day after President Trump's inauguration, millions of people filled streets around the U.S. and the world for the Women's March. As a feat of grassroots organizing, it was one of the most impressive in years. But the question remains if that day of protests has actually jumpstarted a real movement to resist President Trump's agenda. This weekend, a follow-up Women's Convention met in Detroit to take stock and look forward. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek has this report.

SARAH CWIEK, BYLINE: Ingrid Shavaughn Young is a warm slight woman with an infectious laugh. After four years in prison, Young returned to her native Detroit and started rebuilding her life.

INGRID SHAVAUGHN YOUNG: I am now a journeyman millwright, and I use my income to fund my rebuilding of Detroit.

CWIEK: Young has bought, remodeled and sold a small handful of vacant homes. Like so many others, she is looking for a piece of Detroit's resurgent real estate market. But she also wants to make sure it doesn't turn into a massive outside land grab. And she wants more resources for this kind of small-scale blood-sweat-and-tears investment in the city's revitalization.

YOUNG: We already have a community who has never left Detroit, and we should be first up to redesign it.

YOUNG: Young shared her story during the Women's Convention at Detroit's Cobo Center this weekend. It's an offshoot of January's massively successful Women's March. Brooklyn-based activist Linda Sarsour is a Women's March co-leader. She says the march was a needed moment for some women and other groups who felt devastated by Trump's election.

LINDA SARSOUR: People were inspired. People were moved. We saw the potential that our country has, and we wanted to move it into action. So how do you take a march and create a movement and a moment out of it?

CWIEK: The convention features a wildly diverse range of topics, but the need for grassroots organizing is a common thread. Some prominent women politicians were there. California Congresswoman Maxine Waters spoke today. She was the inspiration behind the convention slogan - reclaiming our time. Women's March co-organizer Carmen Perez says the convention aims to bring people back...

CARMEN PEREZ: And build a agenda for 2018, right? So we want to take back Congress. And we also want women to run for office, so it's an opportunity to actually do that.

CWIEK: The convention is also timely in an unexpected way. It dovetails with public revelations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's decades of predatory sexual behavior, and the #MeToo too phenomenon, where millions of women have shared stories of sexual assault and harassment on social media. Women's March co-leader Carmen Perez says they're taking bold action to build a diverse resistance movement, and that makes some people, including many women, uncomfortable.

PEREZ: There's a lot of learning to do. There's a lot of training that needs to happen. And we also need to continue to have conversations about what feminism looks like.

CWIEK: The Women's Convention drew over 4,000 participants. The hope is they leave Detroit with renewed energy and a new set of tools to use in their very different lives and communities. For NPR News, I'm Sarah Cwiek in Detroit.