Nearly 100 women of the Poor People Campaign are arrested during DC march

March for injustice Flickr/ Stephen Melkisethian

Women's Moral Monday March, the Poor People's Campaign planned a march on Washington to celebrate the 1848 Seneca Falls Women's Conference, the first women's rights conference in the United States, and a landmark moment for women's suffrage. 

During a women's march in Washington, D.C., on July 19, almost 100 protestors were detained while calling for legislation to preserve voting rights and seeking assistance for marginalized and poor Americans. The gathering at the Supreme Court kicked off the march. As they proceeded down First Street towards the Capitol, authorities detained the march's organizers for obstructing traffic.  

We are still denied voting rights 173 years later,” said Rev. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign and one of those detained during Monday's march. “It will require the leadership of all people — including women — if we are striving to make the country more ideal.

The 100 Women are Arrested

The gathering at the Supreme Court kicked off the march. As they proceeded down First Street towards the Capitol, authorities detained the march's organizers for obstructing traffic.

In a phone interview with Religion News Service on Monday, Theoharis said, "Once we took over the street, the police came fairly soon to come and arrest the ladies who had helped to lead the movement."

The group's requests were printed on sashes worn by the demonstrators on Monday, demands that were also detailed in a statement signed by 100 female leaders from around the nation. They had four objectives: They wanted to end the filibuster, repeal the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. 

Ahead of the 56th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, on Aug. 6, the campaign is requesting these things. As co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign alongside Theoharis, Bishop William Barber II called for a month of "Moral Mondays" to defend democracy and fight tyranny on July 5. On June 22, Barber was arrested outside the US Senate in Washington, D.C., for protesting against the filibuster of the For the People Act.

After the ladies were freed from police detention on Monday, they reassembled in the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, east of the Capitol, for singing and socializing, as well as lots of clapping and cheering.

Theoharis said that the day's direct action demonstrated how far the voting rights movement has gone since Seneca Falls, as well as how much farther it still has to go.

According to Theoharis, “Seneca Falls was a meeting of white women, but today's gathering of women is made up of women of all colors, sexualities, and backgrounds from around the nation who are saying, "We have a leadership role in guiding this country to justice," Theoharis described them as the “next generation of freedom fighters.”

Additionally, the marchers spanned generations. According to Theoharis, her daughter was part of a group of young ladies who led the march, carrying a banner with the organization's name.

Next week, the Poor People's Campaign will move Moral Monday activities from Washington to the states. The campaign's next move is a four-day march from Georgetown, Texas, to Austin, in the "Selma-to-Montgomery manner."

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