Event Innovators 2017: Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez & Linda Sarsour

The national co-chairwomen of the Women’s March on Washington organized the largest single-day march in American history.

By Alesandra Dubin June 14, 2017, 5:35 AM EDT

Photo: Courtesy of Co-Chairs

Following the intensely divisive presidential election in November, the atmosphere in America was ripe for activism and community organizing. In the midst of all of the passionately organized activity, one event made history as the largest demonstration ever after a presidential election and the largest single-day march in American history: the Women’s March on Washington and its many satellite marches around the world.

All together, the attendee tally soared well above two million people, spread across every continent in the world, with roughly 500,000 in Washington and 750,000 in Los Angeles alone. The simultaneous global events—which advocated for not just women’s issues but other human rights including immigration reform, healthcare, racial equality, and more—took place on January 21, the day following Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. The significantly larger crowd for the march than for the inauguration event itself became a topic of much media coverage and cultural conversation fodder.

Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland are the organizers behind the march. Mallory is a social-justice activist who worked closely with the Obama administration as an advocate for civil rights issues, equal rights for women, and health care and fought to prevent gun violence and police misconduct. She served as a national organizer for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, which drew 300,000, as well as the Justice or Else rally, where she delivered a national address to more than 700,000. After serving as National Action Network’s youngest executive director, she founded the New York-based strategic-planning firm Mallory Consulting.

“The March was planned by so many powerful, strong, and innovative women.”

For 20 years, Perez has been focusing on civil rights issues such as mass incarceration, gender equality, violence prevention, and community policing. She is the executive director of Gathering for Justice, a nonprofit founded by Harry Belafonte, and has traveled the world promoting civil- and human-rights messages in that capacity. She is the co-founder of Justice League in New York and Los Angeles, task forces for advancing juvenile and criminal justice reform. She has organized many national events, including Growing Up Locked Down conferences on juvenile justice and the 250-mile march known as March2Justice against police violence.

Sarsour is a Palestinian-American racial-justice and civil-rights activist who led the progressive coalition to close New York public schools for the observance of two of Islam’s most important holy days. She was also one of three female co-chairs of the March2Justice in 2010. She spoke for 700,000 people at the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March and is the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, co-founder of Muslims for Ferguson, and a member of Justice League NYC. 

Bland is the C.E.O. and founder of Manufacture New York, a social enterprise with the mission to rebuild the American fashion industry, foster new businesses, and create a sustainable global supply chain. She is also a speaker and advocate.

“The March was planned by so many powerful, strong, and innovative women—a national coordinating committee, independent state-level coordinators, and thousands of volunteers—who worked around the clock to pull together one of the largest demonstrations in the history of the United States,” the organizers say in a joint statement to BizBash. “Each person who joined the movement—whether by organizing, planning, supporting, or standing in solidarity—helped us all see that power does not only belong to those in Washington, D.C. It belongs to each of us.” 

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