Last year’s Women’s March in Nashville was a show of protest against the Trump presidency. This year, organizers say they’re focusing on what they stand for. Namely, helping create future political leaders. Which is why the march will be preceded by a morning-long conference.
March coordinator Francie Hunt says one reason people with progressive values don’t have a strong enough voice in Tennessee is that they too rarely run for office. So many of Saturday's conference workshops will feature experts in the field teaching participants how to register voters, lobby legislators — and stand for election.
All good lessons as midterm elections approach, says Hunt, who heads the Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood, one of the organizers of the day's events.
"It’s not just how big is your base," she says. "It’s how big is your band of leadership. And that’s why we think investing our time and money in putting on a conference is worthwhile, in addition to marching."
Other workshop topics include immigration and criminal justice reform, reproductive rights, even faith and spirituality. The conference is overbooked, with nearly 800 registered for the events at the downtown campus of Tennessee State University.
Still, Hunt is hesitant to predict turnout for the march. She’s hoping for 4,000. Last year, at least 15,000 people marched through Nashville’s streets.
The march begins with a rally at 2 pm on Saturday in Public Square Park, kicked off by Mayor Megan Barry. It will make its way to the Bicentennial Mall.
Sister marches in the state will be held this weekend in Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville.