DETROIT, MICH. - The Women's Convention will feel the Bern later this month, when Bernie Sanders visits Detroit to address more than 3,000 women and progressive activists as they get ready for the 2018 midterm elections.
The senator from Vermont, an independent who challenged Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, is to address the crowd the evening of Oct. 27, on the first day of a three-day convention organized by the Women's March.
“I’m honored to join the women at the front lines of our struggle for economic, social, racial and environmental justice. In January, millions of women came out in an extraordinary and unprecedented display of power and resistance," Sanders said in reference to the Women's March on Washington and sister protests in cities around the world on the first day of President Donald Trump's administration. "Now more than ever, we must support the leadership of women across the country and fight together to advance our progressive agenda."
Protesters carry signs at the Women's March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo: KishaBari/Women's March)
Sanders' unconventional campaign for president led a mini revolt within the Democratic Party, splintering off millennials and other supporters who raged along with him about economic disparities in America, a need for campaign finance reform, ways to rein in the cost of a college education and raise the minimum wage.
He was the right choice to be a headliner for the first national Women's Convention in 40 years, said Tamika Mallory, co-founder of Women's March, because Sanders knows how to mobilize a new generation of activists.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), gets a kiss from his wife Jane O'Meara Sanders after speaking at a campaign rally at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium June 9, 2016 in Washington, DC. After a meeting with President Barack Obama earlier at the White House, Sanders said he will work with Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump in the presidential election. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
"I think that right now, no one can deny that Bernie Sanders is probably one of the most powerful U.S. senators ... on progressive issues, women’s issues, mobilizing millennials. He is really in line with the principles of the Women's March," Mallory told the Free Press in an exclusive interview Wednesday night.
Those principles involve working toward collective liberation for women of all races, ethnicities, ages, abilities, sexual identities, gender expressions, immigration statuses, religious faiths, and economic statuses.
Carmen Perez, left, Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory and Linda Sarsour attend the TIME 100 Gala, celebrating the 100 most influential people in the world, at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, in New York. (Photo: Charles Sykes, Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
"There will definitely be a focus on the 2018 election and how we build political power," Mallory said, "but there will certainly be an educational component to help people who are new activists and give them the tools they need to do work in their communities that may not always be political but certainly is important."
Sanders, Mallory said, brings the experience of a long-time Senator who continues to work to bring progressive change to government.
"We believe as women ... that we ought to have more than just women at the Women's Convention," Mallory said. "People want to hear from the leadership from within our government who can give us some insight about what's happening … so we can know what we need to do to be able organize."
Sen. Bernie Sanders looks on after the Vermont delegation cast their votes during roll call on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM, AFP/Getty Images)
The Women's Convention, which will take place at Detroit's Cobo Center, is themed "Reclaiming Our Time," a play on the words spoken by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who pushed back against Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as he tried to derail her line of questioning.
Waters also is expected to address convention-goers, as will other politicians, activists and celebrities, including actress Amber Tamblyn. Her personal account of sexual harassment in Hollywood was published in the New York Times in September. In it, she denounced the way society dismisses women's reports of their sexual abuse, assault and harassment, drawing attention to why women so often don't speak up.
Less than a month after Tamblyn's story was published, the Times came out with an exposé revealing decades of sexual harassment and assault claims against producer Harvey Weinstein.
"The overall message is that this conference is really designed as a way to empower voices in exactly the way that you see women coming forward with their stories about Harvey Weinstein," Mallory said, whether those stories involve sexual violence, harassment, domestic violence, police brutality or any other form of mistreatment in their lives.
"We want to make sure that women know they have the power in unity to come forward and tell their stories, whatever their stories may be, and we have the obligation to protect their voices. We hope that at this conference more women will feel empowered to speak out, to tell," she said.
"Whether that means they’re an undocumented person that wants to tell their story. Whether that means they've been abused by police and they want to tell their story. Whether that means they've been sexually violated and they want to tell their story. We want every person to feel that this is a safe place to tell their stories, to learn and organize in their local communities to do something to help others that may be experiencing the same."
Other speakers at the convention include:
- Actress and producer Piper Perabo
- Sally Kohn, CNN political commentator and columnist
- Nomiki Konst, co-founder and executive director of The Accountability Project
- Leah Greenberg, co-founder of the Trump resistance group Indivisible
- Liliana Reyes, a transgender Latina activist
- Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams
- Stosh Colter, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action
- Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution
- Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance
- Michigan state Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit,
- Detroit City Councilwoman Raquel Castañeda Lopez
- Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer
For more details about the convention, go to www.womensconvention.com. Conference tickets are available online athttp://www.womensconvention.com/register.html. The ticket cost for all three days of the conference is $295 for adults and $125 for students. Single-day tickets are available for $125.
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