The Women’s March is getting a leadership overhaul after reportedly cutting ties with three co-chairs who have been accused of anti-Semitism and organizational mismanagement. The Washington Post reports that Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Bob Bland quietly stepped down from the board in July, but continued to be the face of the organization until this week.
The new board includes a diverse slew of activists. From the Washington Post:
A diverse cast of 16 new board members that includes three Jewish women, a transgender woman, a former legislator, two religious leaders and a member of the Oglala tribe of the Lakota nation will inherit an organization recovering from a failed attempt to trademark the Women’s March name and fractured relationships with local activist groups and the Jewish community.
The “former legislator” is Lucy Flores, the former Democratic Assemblywoman from Nevada who accused presidential candidate Joe Biden of inappropriate touching back in March. The Women’s March official site has a full list of the new board members and their accompanying photos and profiles. Carmen Perez is the only original co-chair who will remain on the board.
Sarsour is, apparently, pleased with the arrangement:
Reached via text message, Sarsour said the new Women’s March board is “AMAZING,” adding that she will continue working to get voters to the polls in 2020.
“I am grateful to the women who stepped up to shepherd the Women’s March,” she wrote. “This is what women supporting women looks like.”
Mallory didn’t respond to the Post’s requests for comment and Bland simply said that the turnover was in the works for a long while.
As Jezebel reported in November 2018, the charges of anti-Semitism have been complicated. A melange of bad faith accusations lobbed at Sarsour—a Palestinian-American who is a vocal critic of Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinian people—accompanied fairer critiques of Mallory’s reluctance to distance herself from Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader known for making anti-Semitic, homophobic, and transphobic comments.
This is the Women’s March’s attempt at a refresh, a restructuring that they clearly hope will tighten up the organization’s reputation in the lead up to the 2020 campaign cycle (and maybe even drum up higher attendance at the annual protest in Washington this January). Still, it may take more than a change of leadership to inject enthusiasm back into a two-and-a-half-year-old zeitgeist that was challenged from the jump.
Update 9/17/19, 9:12 a.m.: A spokesperson for the Women’s March has sent the following comment: “Women’s March is a non-profit organization with a dedicated board. The organization has not cut ties with the three departing board members; their terms have ended. As with any organization that has a governing board, there are set term limits imposed upon its members. We truly appreciate the groundbreaking work and sacrifices towards equal rights that Women’s March and its board has accomplished thus far to which Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Bob Bland have been instrumental. Our inbound board members represent a truly diverse swath of women who have fought and will continue to fight tirelessly for women’s equal rights.”