The day after Donald Trump is inaugurated as the United States’ 45th president, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to flood in from around the country to march through the nation’s capital. The mission of the Women’s March includes advocating for human rights and pushing back against bigotry toward immigrants, Muslims and people of color.
KUNM spoke with Samia Assed, one of the local organizers of a caravan that will carry hundreds of New Mexicans to the rally in Washington, D.C.
ASSED: This march hits home for me on a personal level, as I’m sure it does most women in America. This campaign was really a big attack on women. It’s been an attack on immigrants, and I’m a Muslim American, and it’s been an attack on my community. So it’s very personal. It’s a very scary time.
The motivation of organizing in this group was predominantly fear, actually, for me. I’m a mother of nine, and the day after the election and not knowing what he’s fulfill as far as campaign promises, how would it affect my kids on a personal level. It’s fearful. I’m not going to lie. I’m a third-generation American. It’s the first time in my life I’ve felt like my kids won’t have it as wonderful as I’ve had it. It just put that into perspective.
So when we organize, we organize this march, we organize with our hearts, our soul. We organize for abused women, for reproductive rights, for human rights, for civil rights, for economic rights, for environmental rights.
KUNM: Why do you think it’s important to go all the way to Washington for this? What do you want people to know most about your efforts?
ASSED: For me, the calling was Washington, D.C. I’m an organizer, like I said, here. I’m an activist. I’ve been protesting here, and holding marches in the state of New Mexico. And it’s an important work, and it’s wonderful efforts here in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
But for me the calling was Washington, D.C. I think we need to go in, hand-in-hand, every ethnicity, a representation of every New Mexican. I think there’s something so powerful to be part of a presence that’s saying, 'Look, we object to what this campaign has been spewing as far as hate, and really injustices.'
We will stand with women from every different part of the country. It’s a uniting force. It’s wonderful.
KUNM: Do you think there’s a specific message or idea coming out of New Mexico? Is there a theme to the reason women from New Mexico are marching specifically?
ASSED: Tell you what, when we came up with our slogan, we came up with: Enchanted uprising. How befitting of a community here in New Mexico where the women are coming to say, 'Look ,women’s rights, Native rights, minority rights, economic rights, they’re all tied in.' Self-determination for a woman, no matter where you come from, is extremely important.
And to recognize that this world is no longer just a white community. Women’s rights are not just a white right. It is a wholesome right. We want women of color to feel that they have a voice in this march.
I think New Mexico will be moving in a different direction. My hope is to take this movement, to build on it and to create the new feminist movement for the next couple of decades—it’s kind of like a fourth-wave feminism—and be inclusive of everybody. It’s a human rights campaign at the core.
KUNM: Do you think things could become tense between marchers and Trump supporters, who will also be in Washington that day for the inauguration that is the day before the march?
ASSED: There has been some fears that Trump supporters would act up, but I think the numbers of the marchers will outweigh any fear. And I think the police have taken a lot of measures in D.C. for the safety of the marchers.
The numbers are way to high for anybody to mess with us. I mean it would be crazy. Unless it was like really crazy. But I think most of the marchers are ready to take that in nonviolent protest and march through. I don’t think there’s anything stronger than marching together peacefully and not swaying away from the message of like, 'No we’re here to say this is not acceptable.'
I don’t think anybody could fight that.
KUNM: Some folks that the women’s march on Saturday might draw more people from around the country than Friday’s inauguration itself. What kind of message do you think that sends?
ASSED: It sends that this country is no longer going to tolerate hate, and it’s sending the message that we’re going to hold you accountable. I think there’s a wakeup. There’s a kind of a 'What just happened to us?' kind of moment? And people are in shock.
And at the same time, I really don’t want to make it just about Trump. For us, it’s not about Trump. It’s about where this country’s going with the movement. How do we lead in human rights, in civil rights, in women’s rights. And it’s not just one person. It’s the country. We set the tone of the country.