Co-Chair of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington Linda Sarsour Visits Trinity

Activist Discusses the Importance of Resistance and Strength in the Trump Era

​Hartford, Connecticut, May 9, 2017 – Linda Sarsour, a co-chair of the January 21 Women’s March on Washington, came to Trinity College recently to discuss her work and to share how individuals can engage in activism. After being introduced by Vijay Prashad, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies, Sarsour spoke to a crowd of students, staff, faculty, and the public in Mather Hall’s Terrace Rooms on April 27.     

Sarsour, a Palestinian woman born in Brooklyn, New York, is a former executive director for the Arab America Association of New York. In 2016, she endorsed U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) for president of the United States and traveled nationally with Sanders speaking at rallies and connecting with fellow Americans. Sarsour said that after seeing and feeling the tremendous negative impact Donald Trump’s election had on her family and others in her community, she was both fearful and outraged.

The development of the Women’s March on Washington was rapid, Sarsour noted. Teresa Shook, a woman from Hawaii, created a Facebook event inviting friends to protest in Washington after Trump’s election. This notion caught on, others created Facebook pages, and thousands began signing up to march. Sarsour was asked to serve as co-chair for the national event. “I felt overwhelmed and inspired and reminded of hope. We organized the march for 200,000 and then an extra million came. One of the things we offered in the march is that women can lead an intersection movement; you can be a white, black or Latina woman and we can organize together and we can win together,” said Sarsour. She emphasized the importance of representation within all communities. “All women have different priorities and everyone saw themselves in the women’s march,” she added.

Sarsour continued the discussion by describing five ways to engage in activism. First, she stated, get to know your neighbors and reach out. “If people knew each other’s neighbors, you would be a lot bolder and stand up for them,” she said. Second, let people talk and listen to why they are outraged. “There is a difference between hearing and listening; allow people to feel like they can be human with you, take the time to have hard conversations,” Sarsour said. Third, show up. “People underestimate their individual presence,” she said. “This is a moment where your outrage needs to be public so the administration knows we will not sit back.” Fourth, donate to organizations and invest in movements. “We are not outnumbered by the opposition, but we are out organized by them,” she said. Lastly, Sarsour noted the importance of staying informed and understanding the pressing issues affecting different communities.

To conclude her speech, Sarsour emphasized the importance of progressive movements like the Women’s March on Washington to “connect the dots globally” and allow all people, even those who have never been activists, to have a voice and participate in something greater than themselves. “Relationship building is much more powerful than people give it credit for and that will create a ripple effect across the country,” Sarsour said.     

Mackenzie Taskey ’17, said, “I was grateful for the opportunity to attend such a moving event. Hearing Linda Sarsour speak with such passion and courage made me want to do something; it made me want to act.”    

Prashad added, “I think it is important for a college to bring in new voices that have not been heard, people from communities and political projects that are treated as marginal to the national experience, people who are not always on the mainstream media and therefore whose views are unfamiliar. It is refreshing to hear people who represent millions of others but who are not heard on our campuses as often.”

Sarsour’s talk was sponsored by the International Studies Program, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Student Government Association, the Office of the Dean of Faculty, the History Department, the Center for Urban and Global Studies, the Political Science Department, the Women, Gender and Sexuality Program, the Educational Studies Program, the Neuroscience Program, the Religion Department, the Theater and Dance Department, the American Studies Program, and the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement.  

Written by Lorig Purutyan ’17