Chicago organizers will not hold a Women’s March in January 2019


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

A sign at the Chicago Women’s March 2018 reads “I am woman, watch me vote.” Chicago organizers cancelled the event for 2019, citing logistics.

Sophia Scanlan, Reporter

This story was updated on Jan. 7. 

Chicago organizers announced in November they will not host the annual Women’s March because of concerns about costs and amid rising controversy about the national organization’s link with Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan following his anti-Semitic comments.

Farrakhan drew criticism last February when he delivered a speech attended by the national organization’s co-chair with comments like “the powerful Jews are my enemy.” Though leaders of organization condemned his comments a month later, local chapters throughout the country began dissociating from the national group.

Last year, about 300,000 people gathered in Grant Park for the Women’s March, which was about 50,000 more than in 2017. Sara Kurensky, a Women’s March Chicago board member, told the Chicago Tribune in December that marches with such a large turnout can cost more than $150,000, a steep price after already hosting a “March to the Polls” event in October, which 100,000 people attended in Grant Park.

While the cost was a major reason for cancelling the march, Kurensky told the Tribune that the opportunity for the Chicago chapter to separate further from the national organization was a “side benefit.”

Harlene Ellin, a spokesperson for Women’s March Chicago, said the decision, which she says was made in spring 2017, was not based “on the actions of any other organization, including Women’s March Inc.”

Other cities like Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. will still hold marches on Jan. 19 along with nearby Illinois cities like New Lenox, Rockford and Woodstock.

Even without a march, Chicago organizers still plan to host an event or activity on Jan. 19, 2019 to honor the occasion — the details of which have yet to be determined.

“There’s no march, there’s no rally,” Kurensky told the Tribune. “We’re going to provide ways for people to organize and take action in their local communities.”

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Women’s March Chicago cancelled a march. A plan for a march in Chicago was never announced. The Daily regrets the error.

This post was updated on January 13 with additional comment from Harlene Ellin. 

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