The original founder of the Women’s March has called on the organization’s four co-chairs to step down from their posts for allowing “anti-Semitic … and hateful, racist rhetoric” to tarnish the organization’s platform.
Founder Teresa Shook on Monday penned a lengthy Facebook post blasting board members Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez, arguing that they should resign after steering the pro-women’s movement off course.
“I have waited, hoping they would right the ship,” Shook wrote. “But they have not. In opposition to our Unity Principles, they’ve allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs. I call for the current Co-Chairs to step down and to let others lead who can restore faith in the Movement and its original intent.”
The declaration comes just weeks after actress and activist Alyssa Milano distanced herself from the organization, refusing to speak at Women’s March ’19 unless Mallory and Sarsour condemned Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who she alleges has a history of making homophobic and anti-Semitic remarks.
“Any time that there is any bigotry or anti-Semitism in that respect, it needs to be called out and addressed,” Milano told LGBT magazine The Advocate. “I am disappointed in the leadership of the Women’s March that they haven’t done it adequately.”
Mallory came under fire earlier this year after attending a Savior’s Day speech by Farrakhan in which he declared, “the powerful Jews are my enemy.” Mallory, Perez and Sarsour have all been criticized for their support of the Islamic leader in the past.
Sarsour jumped to Mallory’s defense amid the backlash, writing, “I won’t sit back while a strong, bold, unapologetic, committed Black woman who risks her life every day to speak truth to power, organize and mobilize movements is questioned, berated and abused.” In the end, the co-chairs failed to denounce their alleged ties to Farrakhan, despite mounting pressure from activists within the movement.
On Monday, the organizers responded to Shook’s Facebook post, saying the founder had commented on the matter “irresponsibly.”
“Today, Teresa Shook weighed in, irresponsibly, as have other organizations attempting in this moment to take advantage of our growing pains to try and fracture our network,” the post begins. “Groups that have benefited from our work but refuse to organize in accordance with our Unity Principles clearly have no interest in building the world our principles envision.”
They continued, “We are imperfect. We don’t know everything and we have caused harm. At times we have responded with hurt. But we are committed to learning. We will continue to work through the good and the bad, the impact and the harm — of building an intersectional movement that our daughters, and our daughters’ daughters can be proud of.”
Despite weeks of controversy, the organizers said they are “grateful” for Shook “and for people who HAVE been with us for the past two years, wrestling with the challenges and opportunities of what we are trying to build.”