Women's March logistics guru Janaye Ingram on moving forward
The mission and vision statement for the Women's March on Washington this Saturday states: "We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health and our families -- recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country."
It's not about protesting the seemingly misogynistic rhetoric associated with the incoming administration. Rather, it's about moving forward and becoming the change you'd like to see in the world. "We, the national committee members for the March, want everyone to be positive, affirming and to understand that they have an obligation to the greater movement. They have to be dedicated to improving the lives of all people in this country," noted Janaye Ingram, the head of logistics for the national Women's March.
Ingram, a Camden, New Jersey, native, has made creating change for marginalized communities her life's work. The former Miss New Jersey USA (2004), who works as a consultant in Washington, D.C. now, previously served as the national executive director of the civil rights organization National Action Network (NAN). While working for NAN, she learned how to organize crowds in a productive manner.
The March, which will feature civic-minded performers like Janelle Monáe, Maxwell, Angelique Kidjo and speakers America Ferrera, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Scarlett Johansson, Melissa Harris-Perry, Michael Moore, Janet Mock and more is just the starting point.
We asked Ingram to discuss what's motivating her now, advise on how to make the most of your march experience and why this movement matters.
espnW: How did you become involved with the national committee for the Women's March on Washington?
Janaye Ingram: I got a call from Tamika D. Mallory, one of the national co-chairs, and she asked me to come on to help with logistics in the D.C. area only. When we started discussing the plans, I thought it would be best for me to join and work on the national efforts. I had no idea this would become such a big thing. I mean, it all started with a Facebook post!
So, when I was brought into the national efforts, they hadn't secured a permit for the March. On that following Sunday, we had a group call with the national committee team members. It was me, Tamika, Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez, Bob Bland and Vanessa Wruble.
Then I applied for the permit the very next day. And it's been growing ever since. We are planning for 200,000 attendees. That is our working number. We've been floored about how many people are coming. They are taking planes, trains and automobiles to get here. This is real grassroots activism, which is what this country is going to need to protect the rights of women.
espnW: There are women's marches happening all around the U.S. and across the globe. Is there synergy between them?
JI: It's more about the energy of it. The sister marches that are happening independently. Those efforts aren't directly linked to the national organizing body. We believe that it's important for people in local communities to create their own movement and do their own outreach themselves. That's the whole point of this. We want people to understand that they have the power within themselves to make change, and they can do that right at home. People should create conversations about change with their locally elected officials. Remember, this is not just about January 21. This is a starting point.
espnW: What about managing the number of relief stations and confirming the sound system. I image that was taxing?
JI: There is coordination amongst agencies and the march organizers. So I've been in meetings with the local and federal agencies the whole time. We've had to figure out where everything can go, since the inauguration is the day before. And many of the necessities like [bathrooms and sound system] equipment will be left over.
espnW: Do you have any tips for women attending the March?
JI: First, make sure that you have a D.C. Metro transit card, and you should put money on it before you head out to the March. We also advise those attending to take public transportation. Also, please check out our website. There is a whole list of things that are prohibited to bring with you during the March, just because we want everyone to come and be safe. And more obvious, please dress in layers. We expect the temperatures to be a bit warmer than it typically is around this time of year, but if you're standing around and temperatures drop, please listen to your bodies. And wear comfortable shoes.
In addition, have a plan to coordinate with your family members and friends that you're attending the March with. Because there will be such a large crowd of people gathered in one area, cell service can sometimes be rather spotty in those situations. So I advise people to create some sort of contingency plan if people get separated from their respective parties. Select a meeting spot and time for your group.
And finally: batteries. Pack an extra battery for your cell phone when service is working. Bring your chargers.
espnW: What is the most important issue you think women should be fighting for right now?
JI: I think women need to decide for themselves. They need to figure out what's worth fighting for, there are so many [liberties] that are being attacked. For example, women who are of Muslim faith, they are facing the possibility of being a part of a registry. And women who are undocumented, they are facing the fact that their families may be ripped apart. And collectively, women are facing the results of criminal justice reform rollback. The list can go on and on.
Many people make this about President-elect Trump, when the reality is that this goes beyond this forthcoming administration. These are things that have already been in the works with our current Congress and state legislatures. This is really about fighting for our rights collectively.
espnW: At the Democratic National Convention in July, Michelle Obama famously said, "When they go low, we go high." What does that mean to you today?
JI: When they take the low ground and they want to hurl insults, you have to take the higher moral ground. And that's one of our principles for the March. Always go high and fight for what's right.