“We know there is no room for anti-Semitism in our movement. We know this,” Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, said. “We know that our movement is empowered when all of us lift each other up.”
Women’s March, Inc. has been under fire leading up to the third annual Women’s March in Washington, DC, taking place on Saturday, following accusations of anti-Semitism due to some organizers’ association with Louis Farrakhan. The Iowa women’s march event on Saturday in Des Moines was not run by an official chapter of Women’s March, Inc.
Farrakhan, who has led the black nationalist group since 1977, is known for hyperbolic hate speech aimed at the Jewish community, and made remarks such as “the powerful Jews are my enemy” last February.
Both Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez, co-chairs of the Women’s March, have posted photos on Instagram of themselves with Farrakhan. Linda Sarsour, another Women’s March leader, spoke at a rally headlined by Farrakhan in 2015.
Sarsour wrote a November 2018 statement responding to the accusations, denying any bigotry and saying the organization was “deeply invested in building better and deeper relationships with the Jewish community.”
The head of the Iowa Women’s March group, Robin Covington, issued a statement on the matter, saying: “Minister Farrakhan is an anti-Semite. I wish he wasn’t. He’s done a lot of good work in the black community but he is undoubtedly anti-Semitic.”
Gillibrand said that the national Women’s March in 2017 was “the most inspiring moment of my political life.”
“Two years ago, the most inspiring moment of my political life happened, the women’s movement was reborn,” Gillibrand said. “The first women’s march didn’t look like any other women’s movement that we have seen before. It was people of all races, religions, gender identities, socio-economic background and ages in hundreds of cities across America.”
She was speaking inside the Iowa State Capitol because it was too cold to actually march outside.
Gillibrand pitched an audience of both women and men on her vision for the country, anchored by confronting President Donald Trump and ensuring gender equality.
“We must remember, an injustice against one of us is an injustice against all of us,” she said later.
“The truth is, if we change who is at the decision-making table, you change everything,” Gillibrand said. “President Trump has chosen to divide this country, to spew hate, to divide us across every line, every racial line, every religious line, every cultural line he can find.”
Gillibrand closed by urging the crowd to “keep marching” and not grow weary in the face of difficulties.
Sophie Tatum and Caroline Kelly contributed reporting from Washington.