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Black Lives Matter left out of women’s march

LOS ANGELES — Thousands of women attended the fourth annual Women’s March LA: Women Rising in downtown Los Angeles Jan. 18 to demand the next president have a clear agenda to advance women’s rights.

Participants gathered in Pershing Square Square and later marched to City Hall for a series of speeches and musical performances. Organizers estimated that as many as 300,000 people participated in the event.

Documentary filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, was the first speaker, and she praised women who have voted in large numbers, resulting in more than 100 recently elected female lawmakers and the return of Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House of Representatives after she previously served from 2007 to 2011.

“In 2020, I have no doubt it will be women who lead again,” Newsom told the crowd. “It will be women who come together, rise up and move this country forward on a path toward justice where all of us can live together and thrive together despite so many perceived differences.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti also addressed the crowd. “Let’s make 2020 the year we change the country for good,” he said.

But this year’s march had its detractors as well. 

Among the groups excluded from the march was Black Lives Matter, which had been involved with the three previous women’s marches.

Black Lives Matter leader Melina Abdullah said Women’s March LA organizers did not invite Black Lives Matter to participate this year, failed to respond to an email request for inclusion and refused speaking time during a subsequent phone conversation.

When asked why Black Lives Matter  was being excluded, Women’s March leadership claimed that they were attempting to make space for new voices.

Many peakers emphasized the need for women, and men, to get out and vote this year.

“Vote blue, no matter who, down the ballot, too,” chanted actor Lisa Ann Walter.

“This is my first women’s march and I’m so happy to be on this team,” transgender rights activist Caitlyn Jenner said. “Together, we can save the soul of this nation.”

Musical performers included Grammy-winning singer Seal, 2007 “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks, Joely Fisher and Jenifer Lewis.

“The voices of hundreds of thousands of women and their allies rang loud and clear across Los Angeles in support of women’s rights,” said Emiliana Guereca, president of Women’s March Foundation. “Supporters of the Women’s March Foundation have made it clear that the next president of the United States must have an agenda to advance women’s rights.”

Similar marches were held across the nation as they have each year since 2017 as a response to the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

The local march was organized by the Women’s March LA Foundation, which described its mission as “Continuing the important work of highlighting the struggles of marginalized communities and all attacks on human rights.”

Wave Staff and Wire Reports