The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is the latest organization to distance itself from the Women’s March over allegations of anti-Semitism, as the January 19 annual march is overshadowed by criticism of the leadership’s affiliation with and failure to denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
The SPLC has designated the Nation of Islam as a hate group.
The Daily Beast reported on Friday that the SPLC will not partner with the Women’s March this year. A spokeswoman for the group said that “other projects were a priority,” but clarified that SPLC will continue to support marches at the local level in areas where the group is active. Asked whether the co-chairs’ affiliation to Farrakhan played a role in the cancelation, the spokeswoman reiterated that the group had other priorities.
Two years ago, the SPLC released a glowing endorsement of the Women’s March. The group said that “As an official partner of the march, the Southern Poverty Law Center stands in solidarity with its organizers’ vision — that ‘women’s rights are human rights’ — and with the march’s mission to bring together communities ‘insulted, demonized and threatened by the rhetoric of the past election cycle.”
The SPLC added that “through our core issues, we work to protect the rights of the working poor, LGBT, and undocumented immigrant women whom the Women’s March on Washington seeks to unite.”
The Women’s March leaders Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Carmen Perez are under intense pressure from local branches of which several have disbanded, defected or distanced themselves from the national leadership over allegations of racism.
In separate incidents, the local branch of the organization in Denver rebranded as Womxn’s (the x represents inclusion) March Denver, Women’s March Los Angeles posted a statement on its website informing the public of its separation from the national leadership, while the Washington State chapter of the Women’s March announced its dissolution. In addition, organizers of the Charlotte’s Women’s March changed their name and severed all ties to the group.
The Daily Beast reported that EMILY’s List, a political action committee that aims to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office, is also absent from the Women’s March list of 2019 partners. Meanwhile, The National Council of Jewish Women told The New York Jewish Week that they would not partner with the organization this year.
In November, the founder of the Women’s March, Teresa Shook, called on the Women’s March’s co-chairs to resign over anti-Semitic rhetoric and bigotry, just days after Sarsour suggested American Jews have dual loyalties. She charged that the organization’s leadership had “allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform.”
Earlier in the month, actress and activist Alyssa Milano said she would not speak at this year’s Women’s March because its leaders refused to denounce anti-Semitism. Fellow actress Debra Messing later announced her support for Milano.
In a separate incident, a German think tank, associated with Germany’s Social Democratic Party, rescinded a human rights award it had planned to present to the Women’s March movement on grounds that the latter group holds anti-Semitic views.