Progressives came out in full force Thursday to denounce Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as the headlining speaker at a convention organized by the Women’s March.
Feminists and their organizations blasted the Women’s Convention, a three-day event aimed a female liberation, for having Sanders speak on the opening night of the convention. Some women took to Twitter to voice their frustrations, while others rallied behind a petition calling for the immediate removal of Sanders.
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Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft launched the petition “Remove Bernie Sanders from opening the Women’s Convention,” calling for the organizers to choose a “female-identifying figure” as the opening night speaker.
“The individual who kicks off an event often becomes the ‘face’ of the event. It is only right to have a woman’s face for the Women’s Conference. Having a man’s face only continues the invisible presence, work, and voices of women,” the petition notes. “Women are best qualified to speak about women’s issues.”
Other women have pointed out that Sanders once called Planned Parenthood the “establishment” and ran a negative campaign against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as reasons for him not being a good choice as the opening speaker.
“This choice sends the wrong message. We’ve reached out to the @ organizers to share our disappointment and offer our help,” tweeted Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily’s List.
The Women’s March organizers defended their position, pointing out that some women were not able to make it because of their busy schedules and that women would be speaking first when the convention started.
“Our program features more than 60 women leading in activism, organizing and advocacy, as well as grassroots leaders running for and serving in office across the country. We are excited to come together, to unite across our differences and to fight for a future we all believe in,” the group said in a statement.
Organizer Tamika Mallory also pointed out that while Sanders may address the women the first night, Rep. Maxine Waters is the convention’s keynote speaker. The outrage over Sanders only serves to erase the work of black women, Mallory added.
“To the folks yelling at
@womensmarch & directly at me: Why does your version of advocating for women’s rights = bashing Black women leaders?” Mallory tweeted.
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