tv After Words Linda Sarsour Together We Rise CSPAN January 22, 2018 12:01am-1:01am EST
movement. interviewed by the president of dmos. with relevant guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest works. >> host: linda sarsour, cofounder of the women's march and this book together we rise behind the scenes of the protest heard around the world. january 21 it will be a year-long anniversary of the largest protest in american history. how did you get involved? take us back to the moment you first decided you could do this. >> guest: i was just like everybody else. i had a couple of minutes of despair after 2016 and sitting online just like everybody else trying to figure out and analyze why are we in this situation and i started seeing posts into
facebook events about the women march and my first response was there's already a million women marching but i digress and i started going into the actual pages on the commentary and i actually said i made a comment in there and i said i hope that you include muslim women and communities as it's one of the groups that wasn't described in the description of the event, they talked about solidarity and i'm sure that it wasn't intentional, but i felt the need to say something. and at the same time simultaneously as i was making that comment about one of the original founders of the facebook page was already in consultation with the african-american civil rights leader and carmine purdah is working on criminal justice or the country they were already in conversation about bringing in women of color and when i made the commentary they were like yes we have one that comes with
his trio and she's a muslim american organizer and if you're going to bring us in a, she has to be included in this work and they said absolutely so that is how i joined the women's march. when i went to the table we came with some conditions we were not just going to be balkanized in this movement in light of the critiques that were started and we didn't want to be told as the one chicana, the one black woman and the one muslim woman. we asked to be cochairs of the march and we also had a very important roles. tamika malory did a lot around the operations. i was a fundraiser and worked on the platform that we created. carmen was in charge of the part ships useful manifested on the day and beyond that day, and it was a buzzword and something we have to think about. whether we have the fortitude and resources to engage in fact,
it was amazing, hard amazing. >> host: tell us your favorite moment from the women's march. >> guest: the actual day what was one of your favorite moments? >> guest: not many people know the story but maybe about a week and a half before the women's march happened i was in a hotel room watching msnbc and i saw a man by the name of charlie who was the announcer for about 60 years. except when donald trump came he fired him, he didn't want him to be the announcer and at the same time, his wife died in the same period when he was asked not to be the announcer. i was so moved by that in my hotel room bawling my eyes out. i went back home to new york to the headquarters where all this organizing was happening. i said we've got to get charlie. everybody was like who is
charlie? is an inauguration and announcer, his wife died, he's an old man, he will not end her life this way. i contacted every organizer that i knew and operative and i found him and brought him to the women's march and he was the announcer which was much larger than the inauguration and the most beautiful moment when he showed up and here's this man in his 80s who have so much joy in his voice and i can't explain to you the energy he walked in with the gratitude in such a difficult moment in his life after he lost his wife and chila child he had over 60 years. and it was a very personal moment for me but may not be contextual as a part of the
march, but that moment is going to resonate with me forever. i do remember that story and being touched by it and i'm glad you took action and that idea of things that touch us all. it's so much at the heart of the idea of this book many of you were at the march around the country or the world but most of you don't know what it took, what behind the scenes stories are and what it took to put on the largest protest that ever happened in washington, d.c. and similarly in new york city and then if i'm not mistaken, 600 other places around the country and every continent across the globe. >> host: that is what is most important about the book is that
you get to go behind the scenes and you get to hear the joy but also the pain and the hard work and perseverance and a attacks and critiques. having to work internally but with external forces that were out there and also what people don't realize is most of us didn't know each other. so uplink and established organization that's been around for 50 years. some of us have that none of us have organized all of our lives so we walked into this space organizers with women who've never march, entrepreneurs, people who are moved by this election gone wrong so we were building relationships at the same time we have to organize this and help people.
what did we want people to feel when they got there on januar january 21, and there was a lot of hard moments you will hear about in the book. here we were, women of color that had a little bit of resentment in our hearts and not specifically or personally towards them but in general. now you feel some sort of despair but we felt that for a long time. i couldn't help but think in my mind like a wish you were around years ago. and obviously tamika is a black woman and he had other people that were from lgbtq communities so there were a lot of conversations we had to have. we have the women's rights, humans rights, reproductive rights, equal pay. the relevant reproductive rights
and equal pay but let's have a deeper conversation. did you know that white women don't get paid the same as men but black women don't get paid the same as white women. so there has to be this idea around the race analysis is women never have to have a race analysis or didn't feel the need to talk about and we were critiqued very forcefully. i said if we talked about it before we wouldn't be in this situation we got ourselves in so the book is a behind the scenes account of how you get to the largest protest in ten weeks. when they hit the front page and the fact people didn't believe that they were capable of the permit which is the easiest thing to do when you are organizing a mobilization.
until one day i said guess what even if we don't get a permit we will still show up. so there was a lot of stuff that happened through all the obstacles in a relationship building and falling outs. it was a great learning opportunity for all of us. and when we got there on janua january 21 we said we will have 200,000 people. it's basically the local police department and they were like how many people do you think are going to be here, 200,000.
but then about a million extra people came. there was a definite sense that it was huge but the spirit was the same which was a sort of fierce love and inclusion and i was pleased to see as a policy person myself we've got to know what we are fighting for and know what the vision is even in these moments. as soon as i saw it i thought this is a platform i can get behind and this will transform our country and includes some issues that are probably unknown to many of the women who in this
moment what a powerful opportunity to educate them and it's not as if they would say no to it but i haven't heard that beforbefore so callous about the creation of the march platform and what you're going to do with it now. >> one of th >> one of the things we analyzed from election and we believe that we lost in important places like wisconsin and michigan and state we should have won is because we felt that the democratic party was focused on vote for us because we are not them, vote for us because they are racist. a vote for us because they are a basket of the portables. i am moved by communities i love and the idea that i have a role to play in protecting the most marginalized people so we want to bring forth that this isn't just that we are here because we are anti-chump, he's just a
manifestation of what has plagued this nation for a long time. we wanted people to feel like they were marching for something and we do have the values and principles that we stand for a. we want to put together a platform for people to say you know what, i never thought about this but it makes sense to me i care about these issues and this brings me to the table. i believe that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. women's bodies should be their choices and government shouldn't be legislating them. i'lall the put forth was a brilliance of women coming together to say this is what we believe in. we are not marching against one
person, we are marching for these things and i remember reading an article last year that said it's the most section and platform and this is the moment i was most proud of. >> so now here we are in here that many of us it's going to be a moment of transformational political change. what is the women's march doing now in this moment and does the platform play a role setting the vision for the candidates are gointhatare going to come acrose country what does 2018 look like for you? >> here we are the organized the largest protest we could have went home and that could have been enough. that is impressive to put on
your resume. but we had access and we didn't just want to drop it. we wanted to find a way to continue to engage with these folks that don't inspiration that we felt and we've been able to engage with people along the years getting people to town halls, writing letters to their members of congress. we were doing a lot of basic organizing because for a lot of folks that was new to them and it was great to collect more folks along the way that said i didn't get to the march but i watched it on tv. moving forward being a group that attracts a lot of media attention. we were up against the nra have actual clips of the march and called on people in this country who were members said to them you've got to come out and face
these people with a clenched fist of truth we have been met with and we could have stepped back and said let them do what we want but we were going to stand up and fight and we were not afraid so we galvanized a whole group of women that said i'm all about this fierce bold leadership and then we went back to organizing the largest convention and ever since then we were the first in 40 years and it was amazing and people will tell you even the skeptics but king said we have never been in a place that is so organized and intentional about the people we put forth, over 65% were women of color and putting forth
the most directly impacted community but also giving instructions to fix and we continued to build our credibility. so having to come back over and over to prove what we are doing taking the momentum that we continued and using it to build political power. right now we have launched power to the polls on the one-year anniversary january 21, 2018 and we are doing a national tour going to communities where the work is already happening we are not the first to do voter registration.
it is in order to look at 1.5 million people who have obstacles to go to the polls as we hope to bring in the people that are helping to address the voter suppression law. in the aligning values and principles i think one of the things that resonates with communities is this idea of the lesser of two evils.
what about people in the primaries to put their soul into people they believe in or who believe in their cause and understanding that in the were we don't have a choice and we know who we need to elect. it's telling people you're going to win. we will have governorships given to the representatives that have been so marginalized in our country and we are going to say we are alive. we have the first native governor or first muslim governor in michigan or first black woman governor in georgia and i want that to be a story that i tell my grandkids for years from now.
>> host: i couldn't agree more. let's go back for a second to the book. it's a beautiful commemoration people that went to the march or were alive when the march headed for us all it on television. what's one of the chapters that may be surprising to you or surprising to the readers? differently from the organizers and telling you exactly what happened. they've always been erased in light of the commemoration. there was elevator and the
coretta scott king. we were a new generation that said it will be written and televised, it will be written in our voices and include essays from celebrities and a prominent activists and leaders in this country and prominent leaders in different communities. one of th the essays in the boos written by a mentor. she's been around since the days of the civil rights movement and she wrote a piece about us not only thinking we are just running this new movement that we are creating anything new but it's for us to move forward and she always reminds us to shoulders of the people we stand on so what i love about this particular essay is how we move
forward and anyone from this movement right now needs to understand there is nothing here. here. yoyour continuing the legacy of the people to be able to do this comes as a muslim woman, to be able to say i'm unapologetically muslim and she is a black muslim women in 2018 and her friends are so inspirational and someone like her that has seen so much pain and trauma and was in the midst of a movement and here she is still alive during the reemergence of the civil rights movement i think anyone who is feeling this will feel a lot of hope. before the program we were talking about your family and your children and you were just bringing into the room the lying analysis of the movement and all that went into what is now sort of universally praised across
the ideological spectrum and how much that can save and how much pain and blood and sweat went into it and you are talking about watching the movie selma with your kids and i thought that was a beautiful story so can you share that with the viewers? >> guest: i think people see us sharing our storie stories we they might see us on the cover of a magazine and people think this work is glamorous and nobody wants to be anyone on the frontline of the movement. and i received since the march on washington some of the most vicious attacks i didn't expect or even a vigorous disagreement but the rest of my life into my children and defamation of my character and to explain to your
children why everyone wants to create a monster out of those that you love dearly and cooks dinner for you. my kids resonated and those that marched in selma and were part of the movement at that time sacrificed much more than we are sacrificing right now. when they watched different elements and here we are talking about this next action. there's a lot of imagery that resonate with my kids and you know the slanders that they received sometimes via phone or
letters that they were getting from oppositional figures including the fbi. and i think that helped me to have a conversation with my kids. i do this because i love my children and wanted them to live in a country that respects them but it comes with risks and i explain to my children this was easy and cool, everybody would be doing it. it would be inevitable. bringing back the stories have helped therapeutically for those that are experiencing trauma and sometimes my kids are very edgy asking where are you, who's with you and i don't think that kids should be worried about where
their mom is especially 6:00 on a tuesday night, but our kids struggle with us and i have security detail and i don't always bring my kids to public things anymore because i don't want them to bring connections in that way and i want them to participate in life that we are at a moment where maybe temporarily that cannot happen. >> thank you so much for sharing that. >> this is a moment right now where so many women are finding their voices. it is believable. women are finding their voices through the movement to move into politics. you have record numbers of women saying i never thought politics was something i would have to personally, but it's clear that the system is broken and the people that are empowered to have my community, my children, the future of the planets and stepped hard.
in detroit where you have thousands of women or with what's going to happen in nevada on the anniversary of the women's march of 2017 he will have more marches all across the country and i think the main one is going to be in nevada. what does it feel like to be right now a woman finding her voice? who are these women that are drawn to the march doing things that they've never done before? >> guest: -traveling the last year, i've been to indiana, kentucky, parts of florida, texas, michigan. believe it or not people that want to be in space with me often times the majority is
either young people millennial age or younger and it's one of the reasons the opposition is really shaken up. what do you have that they are attracted to and i think what they are attracted to us is that we believe in our power and the women's march allows you to fill your individual power so a lot of times we are taught you have to be part of an institution or a particular degree and what we did in the women's march. even i can put together a town hall meeting. yes you can absolutely and that is what it has instilled in many
people around the country. i always think back to january 20 on that dreadful day of the inauguration. but if there isn't a march on january 21. i don't know where we would be as a country if we didn't have that moment after such a dreadful day to say wake up, we are here. we are united. we know what we need to do. let's get on the same page and fight together. i don't believe that we would have these kinds up times up. new jersey, alabama. so i think that we are in this new moment and i'm proud to have been part of a large group of women not just those that organized the dc march but across the world who've reminded women that you are powerful even more when we organize together
and a lot of these movements are giving people rich and we need courage in this moment. we all have it in us. for me it isn't something exterior to us. courage is in you but there has to be a moment that it is unleashed and i think that this year has unleashe unleashed a lf courage among many groups of people including women. >> host: i have been thinking about this idea. if there's one word to define what we need right now or what should unite all of us who believe in a better america and a better world is that we need courage and we need our elected officials to have courage to stand up for those that are targeted and most vulnerable and that is something that we can sense immediately winning leader doesn't have courage. tell us about how you started and when did you first find your
courage and becoming an activist? >> guest: i was an aspiring teacher. i watched dangerous minds with michelle pfeiffer and thought i'm going to be michelle pfeiffer. i want to work with people of color and help their voices of literature. 9/11 happened. i was 21-years-old, here i was a muslim american, never thought of it much. it wasn't something at the forefront of my mind and then here come the 30 dreadful tragic day in my city where i was born and walking home that day from a college campus in brooklyn and seeing my local community stores closed down. there was no twitter at time. i went from this ordinary girl in brooklyn to being affiliated or attached to or being a
suspect in a very tragic event that killed many of my fellow americans and fellow new yorkers my life and my perspective changed literally in a matter of minutes. i remembered a few weeks after that happened being at the mosque and women came crying to the mosque saying someone came into my home and took my husband and i like what yo you mean some took your husband, that doesn't make sense to me but it did happen. they were raised in communities that i've lived in and i love him i was very radicalized at that moment. it has nothing to do with these people, so then i became entranced--a translator and i thought it was a little side thing i was doing and eventually it became my life to defend a
community and to defend myself to be able to worship freely in this country so that is my entry point into this and it's been a connection still to be even 16 years later. >> host: how did you get your analysis around racial justice? they've been lumped in with other degraded identities, but it's not a given that they are the same issues that affect a young african-american man in the bronx and your family and community in brooklyn so where does that come from and then how did you use that to the advent of that sort of connection that you made when you became a leader for racial justice in this very intersectional way of
new york to cross those bridges in the women's march? >> guest: i started reflecting on my own life. i went to john jay school and there was a lot of gang activity in new york city. everybody was stopped and frisked but it was about 90% african americans and those are my friends and so for me we just thought that's what was. we didn't understand this pipeline. we had officers walking the halls of the school so i started reflecting after walking in people coming in saying law-enforcement is coming and starting to understand this is religious profiling and saying wait a minute, i went to a school where there were police officers arresting black kids in my school and i started to just connect the dots in the mail
just going online and reading about what was going on in the world and then i started to venture out of the organization and started seeking coalitions and talked to the organizers and they would say you should come befor, forthis and that and thet it solidified with me was around racial profiling by the police department and connecting to stop it first as a discriminatory policy to the under the surveillance at the new york police department and we built a coalition around that here in new york city and not only did we build a coalition of with the one major landmarks of the station and ever since then i will never work on any issue without looking at it through a racial justice standpoint even as a muslim american icon fro im a very diverse community, and a third are african-american. so for me i do not consider myself an ally in this work.
when i march against stop in for a score against the killing of unarmed black people, i believe that i first and foremost march for my muslim brothers and sisters and by extension all that racial injustice for me i was like okay, immigration. black immigrants. when you think about reproductive rights was the most directly impacted, when you think about issues of equal pay, again the inequality among the women who are fighting for equal pay there needs to be a racial justice analysis to that as well. and i also realized he can't win them all. the undocumented folks are not going to win them all and we've got to bring them together. people thought we were crazy which is why we wanted to make it so visible and you wil in god
more about it in the book. people said to us here we go again. it's not distracting at all we are intersectional human being. what don't we allow the communities to prioritized what directly impacts them so i was doing this organizing before people were calling at this. calling at this. obviously the term has been out for a long time. i realized in the past years and may organizing work when i finally woke up and said this isn't going to work we've got to organize together. and the idea when people say to me how do you connect criminal
justice to reproductive rights i don't understand how you connect reproductive rights to immigration. everything connects. i can connect the dots to the environmentabox toenvironmentall justice and economic and immigration, like it is very easy. we've created a web now that it's very easy and in a profound way that is digestible for people and now people are starting to get it and that's why you will see groups like the sierra club at a rally that never happened before. i speak from personal experience i've never seen the groups show up in this group like basis and finding people in the reproductive rights .-full-stop or anywhere to be found in the system and now here we are having access to reproductive justice and rights as incarcerated women. there's a lot of opportunity for
some reason it wasn't happening and i think the women's march one of the things we bring to the table and we are not perfect it's somehow we were able to bring people to the table and [inaudible] >> host: talk about the resistance and how is it going? >> guest: in many ways exactly as you said, having the 21st, the day after that sparsely attended dishonest inauguration and inaugural address to have a way for people to come to put their bodies on the line and show by moving buses and trains and planes people felt they had to be down at the town square or in washington, d.c..
it sets the stage for what came right after. we can show that they still did not win the popular vote and this country is different than those that are still being sent from the white house. in many ways it's sparked this resistant moment but we are still in where ordinary people have their congress members on speed dial and are setting up huddles and thinking that they would do things to protect our democracy. and now a year after the inauguration what do you think is the state of resistance? what are we doing well and what do we need to do better? week after, here we are totally
exhausted from the march independence very personal for me. i was moved to see people show up at airports all around the country and it show shows the decentralization of the moveme movement. ever since then, march for this and that and racial justice. really just consistent opportunities for visibility, direct action, civil disobedience and also at the end we didn't win but watching us fight back against healthcare and winning twice, they knew they were not going to be able to beat us that way so that's how we lost recently but watching the pushback, literally everything that has come forth on this ministration there has been a response to it.
the resistance is not perfect and never will be because you are organizing with people and even if we were just organizing from the center of a way to the extreme radical left, that is a huge spectrum of people you are trying to organize. we are seeing this manifest in the resistance now some people want to engage us and others just want to march. it doesn't matter how we get there and i think that is the understanding we are not yet fully on the. maybe you can continue to do the visible action and civil
disobedience. it's going to be a little dysfunctional sometimes. there will be times when the leaders may disagree any particular policy there will be negotiations and compromises people don't think we should make a. and i think that is good for us in the resistance and what i mean by that is we are so polarized as a nation right now it is easier to say are you with us or them. for example i will give you a visible example we went to do a recent women's march supported from local groups outside of senator feinstein's office in support of the dreamers.
we want you to be courageous and stand with us and it was really interesting or we were a couple hundred people standing with those that went to meet and then it was a counter protest like 4:00 on a wednesday. it was an important moment when you had the media fair to portray to the american people okay argue on this side with the people talking about justice and dignity and respect or argue on this sit side with the people wo were calling human beings illegal go back to where you came from we don't want you here.
if you don't pick a side and you stay on the fence you'r you aree side of the oppressor. we need to allow space for people to disagree and we will never agree. they won't agree with me, i'm not going to agree with liberals. i might not agree with people like neoliberals but guess what, we can all agree that we all deserve to have respectful debates and to be treated with dignity and respect. people are expecting this idea and resistance that unity is uniformity and i never believed that. it's all of us understanding that the endgame is all marginalized communities are protected and when they are protected in all live prosperous full productive lives.
>> host: as a part of those groups you just alluded to, the demographic that vote majority for donald trump even though someone from the demographic was on the opposing ticket, 53% according to the exit polls voted for donald trump and continued to vote for republicans whose agenda whether it is the academic policy without a safety net for a voice at work or republicans whose agenda in terms of reproductive rights seem to leave and childcare has no support for the kind of lives that women support to live and white women not latina women, not african-american women, not
native american women, white women are still supporting a party that we might say it's not supporting you and there are so many whose lives are transformed by the march and if you see it as their home what do you say to them? to those that otherwise share their culture and belief? >> guest: we are fighting for them and believe in their potential to do the right thing and we know that they continue often times to disappoint and including t disappoint their whe sisters, the 49 or 37% of the others that don't vote for republicans. i'm not loyal to any particular party. don't assume what this is about.
that wasn't the link which, we are very intentional about this. if a woman chooses to keep her baby, we respect her. i believe in the agencies to make any choices would be about their bodies, their jobs, their careers, women should be able to choose and that is important because it opens an opportunity for people to see themselves okay maybe this isn't what i thought it was just another
critique we unfortunately have a long history in this country who kept women of color out, we have sons and fathers and uncles and brothers who need to be a part of these conversations and many bombs in the movement and women of color have children who may be incarcerated or could be subject to police violence or gun violence and they want their family to be protected. we want a quality education for poor children anour children ano healthcare for everyone. we want you to be to walk through your street safely and get a job based on your qualifications and credentials. i still have hope, and one of
the things in the women's march we are doing right now, we have a woman by the name of rehab and debatand--rhiannon in ohio and a workshop at the convention. originally people thought it was controversial. you want to get feisty about stuff, dividing women that are white versus women of color so we took a risk on this beautiful inspirational and well thought-out kind of workshop together and we put it in a ro room. hundreds of women went out and there was a line outside of
people that wanted to get into the workshop we had to repeat its the next day because those that couldn't participate so we do know that there are white women in the country that are fighting to analyze it themselves saying i'm not a bad person if i understand it somehow unintentionally i have been complicit in some of the suffering that has happened around the end of a font of this confronted. that happens on the progressive left but personally bothers me.
what did you really mean by that and are you ready to listen to my feedback and for someone to say i was wrong. this workshop people be taking is going to be a moment to sit and reflect and come out strong so i was disappointed. >> host: i was on when a man called in from north carolina and said exactly that, i'm a white male and i'm prejudice and went on to talk about things that were sort of stereotypes but i know this because the video went viral and so it touched a nerve. he said i want to be a better america and what can i do to
change and i completely agree that it is so important those of us that have this huge megaphone use it to invite people into recognize the way some of the wildest people on the right wing have created this story and fear that people like you and me are hurting america and threatening to their families but that is a lie and is one of the oldest in this country and that kind of fear has been manipulated and brought us donald trump who's hurting the country got the planet from standing in the world in so many ways that even now so many are having second thoughts. >> guest: in communities i'm from they may not have had a conversation with a woman. there's nothing you can ask me that's going to hurt my feeling.
is there something that scares you ask me about it, if you want to ask telling feminist and how i can be dressed modestly, ask the. what about this and this happening and i don't understand why they do that, and literally allowing people to feel they can have this conversation with the. >> host: i remember going to the university of amherst for a lecture series and i get there and the professors are running around the building like kids are coming to protest and i like it really not that serious. it's the local college some conservative kids like it's fi fine. they come in wind up into the professors were sitting in front of them and behind them and when i saw them i was like it's going to be fine so i do my usual and
i think they have an assumption that what i was going to say and how i was going to present myself. at the end we went outside to this open area and it was like some dramatic moment i called in the eye of one of the kids that came in and got a standing ovation and the kids felt compelled. they smiled to see what kind of reaction i would get and he started walking towards me. i put out my hands to him and shared my name and i appreciated he came today so i said people told me you are going to protest, what happened. he said i didn't agree with everything you said. what made you come to this and he said it's the most profound
thing. 19-year-old white kid he said i chose to give you a chance and i said to myself here you are a 19-year-old college student and i have to ask people all the time in this work that we are doing whether you are on my site or not for you support the march or you don't, give people a chance and if after, you still don't agree with us or think that you can organize with me or come to the same table even though we may differ on a particular political issue or social issue i think giving people a chance, transformative things happen. i walked away and said he did for myself giving people a chance is such a simple thing we can do in this moment. >> host: together we rise the commemoration, the behind the scenes how we wish we had a piece for the othefeast for thes and big moments in social
justice history. it is an incredible treasure to have this book and it's coming out right now on the eve of the one year anniversary. we have about 30 seconds left. tell us what's going to happen this weekend for us now for the one-year anniversary of the women march. >> guest: the women's marches commemorating the protest in american history. i'm kicking off a national campaign called power to the polls which will be a national tour engaging and registering voters across the country because we will win in 2018 and the headlines will be when then lead us to victory and the book is going to share with all of us behind the scenes of the march but it's one of the most inspirational physical things you can hold in your hand with beautiful photography into the faces of the people that watch in every counter googled for decades to come to show your great-grandchildren. >> host: thank you so much,