How I got started with the Women’s March on Washington Albuquerque Rally — and how you can, too

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COMMENTARY: Less than two weeks after the presidential election, I walked into the living room of an Albuquerque home filled with about 15 women – all of us complete strangers from different walks of life, each of us still struggling to cope with our fears about what would happen next.

Felicity McCollum

Courtesy photo

Felicity McCollum

Our conversation quickly identified a common desire to host a Women’s March event in Albuquerque, recognizing that a large number of people do not have the time, money or ability to travel to the East Coast to participate in the Women’s March on Washington D.C. event on Jan. 21.

That D.C. event is expected to draw 200,000 marchers and may be the biggest inauguration demonstration in history.

The Albuquerque rally, expected to draw 2,000 to 3,000, will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 21 in Albuquerque Civic Plaza.

The women in our Albuquerque group are all active in our community through education, environmental sciences, health care, law, journalism, and advocacy. Despite our diverse backgrounds and interests, none of us had ever planned a rally quite like this. We knew we would need to rely on each of our individual skill sets and the help of others to ensure we could organize a safe, successful and inclusive rally that accurately represents the diverse community of which we are proud to be a part.

Our group, since named the Albuquerque Women’s Network, started this venture with virtually zero resources, community support or money to pull it off, yet we pushed forward, confident that others in Albuquerque would share our vision for coming together in ways that make us stronger.

With the tireless help of a few key women, the Albuquerque Women’s Network was able to secure Civic Plaza as our venue, and we soon partnered with the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, Power Through Peace, and the SouthWest Organizing Project.

Our goal for this event is to present a diverse slate of speakers and performers that will uplift and encourage the crowd to take heart, then take action in the near future. The purpose of this rally is to serve as a catalyst for change by empowering attendees to connect with local organizations and showing individuals how they can take action and enact change on a local level.

We have invited various community organizations to provide information and materials to attendees, and we are heartened by the support and positive response we have received from all of these Albuquerque groups.

Our mission statement for the Women’s March on Washington Albuquerque Rally:

The rally is to show solidarity across the nation and at home for the D.C. March, which highlights that women’s rights are human rights. The mission of the rally is foremost to join the many unique cultural groups across New Mexico in an inclusive dialogue and to become more educated about how we can take positive and peaceful action to exercise our constitutional rights.

It’s an act to uplift our spirits, to broaden awareness, and proclaim, “We will protect each other’s civil rights, our communities, our families and our planet.”

Our small, yet impassioned city has truly stepped up to make this event a reality. People from all over have generously donated to the rally’s GoFundMe page, ensuring we will be able to provide security, adequate amplification, permits, facility fees and rentals on the day of the event.

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Additionally, we were floored by the response of the many people who offered to volunteer for various tasks. So far, more than 2,200 New Mexicans have RSVP’d to the rally, while another 3,100 have expressed interest in attending. Without the assistance of all of these participating organizations, supportive community members and eager volunteers, this event would not be happening.

What I find most encouraging about the Women’s March on Washington movement is that the incredible amount of support we have received for the Albuquerque rally is not necessarily unique. There are sister marches popping up all over the United States, in addition to the 49 concurrent international demonstrations. While we stand in solidarity with the countless marches around the world, we do believe our city’s event will stand out from others in that all participants will be connected with resources to channel their discontentment into productive and positive action, and the speakers and organizations that have agreed to participate are truly representative of the diverse and robust community that is Albuquerque.

Please join us at Civic Plaza on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 11 a.m. for the Women’s March on Washington Albuquerque Rally. More information and updates on speakers and performers is available on our Facebook event page. To follow the Albuquerque Women’s Network, visit our Facebook community page. To donate to the rally, please visit our GoFundMe page. To volunteer for event day setup, please email abqwonet@gmail.com.

Felicity McCollum is an organizer for the Women’s March on Washington Albuquerque Rally. Currently residing in Albuquerque with her fiancé and two dogs, Felicity is originally from Southern California, and has spent the beginning of her career in trend forecasting, event planning, and fundraising for various nonprofits and startups in London, Milwaukee, New Orleans and San Francisco.

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