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    Shirley Leung

    Five ways to turn the women’s march into a movement

    Boston MA 1/21/17 Nicoletta Longo (cq) from Boston waving a boa on top of traffic light on the corner of Arlington and Boylston Streets was among more than 125,00 people who participated in the Women's March on Boston. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) topic: reporter:
    Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff
    Nicoletta Longo waved a boa at the top of a traffic light at Arlington and Boylston streets during Saturday’s Women’s March on Boston.

    In your pink hats, you marched and you chanted: “This is what democracy looks like!”

    Last Saturday’s Women’s March was fun, but is that it?

    Of course not. It’s only the beginning. Speaker after speaker at the Boston gathering made that clear. Protecting the rights of women and others who feel threatened under a Trump administration will be a slog.


    “It’s not just what we do today that is important,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told the estimated 175,000 who crowded onto the Boston Common. “It’s what we do tomorrow.”

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    Well, tomorrow is now. Here are five ways you can turn the women’s march into a movement.

    Read up and don’t forget about the Constitution. Stay informed by reading broadly from different sources, not just your Facebook feed. Be aware of fake news and “alternative facts.” But beyond that, re-read the Constitution, of both the US and Massachusetts. That particular advice comes from Margaret Marshall, the former chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, whom I ran into at the Boston march.

    A native of South Africa, Marshall reminds us how remarkable America is, but maintaining our principles takes work.

    “Our form of democracy – which is unusual – requires an active and informed citizenry,” said Marshall, who is senior counsel at the Boston law firm Choate Hall & Stewart. “We have assumed that our democracy can just take over without any of us stopping to read the constitutions to understand them.”


    Asked if she thinks the women’s march will amount to anything, she was unequivocal.

    “Of course it will. It was such a powerful expression of freedom,” she said. “It stirred that basic longing to make ours a better world. I think that’s what was really going on, and the reaffirmation that we can make it a better world.”

    Get politically active. Some 110,000 shared your e-mail addresses when you registered for the Boston march. All of you will soon be getting a letter from Sarah Welsh, the executive director of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, urging you to stay engaged.

    Angie Paulson via AP
    Participants at Saturday’s Women’s Marches wore knit hats.

    “The rally and march were not just intended to make a statement,” she wrote, “but to start a revolution that stands for justice, inclusion and stands up for reproductive rights, gender pay equity, the human and civil rights of all citizens, the preservation of health care as a basic right and the recognition of the science behind global warming.”

    Welsh asked participants to join the nonpartisan caucus, whose mission has been to get more women elected to office. Even in progressive Massachusetts, women hold only a quarter of the seats in the Legislature, a number that has not changed in a decade.


    Now if your goal is to change the makeup of Congress, you might want to consider crossing state lines to volunteer for a campaign. Swing districts will be key, and can guide you to the nearest vulnerable seat. Just type in your ZIP code. For example, if you live in Boston, your closest Democratic-controlled swing district is New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District, where Ann Kuster won by only 15,546 votes.

    See you in court. At Saturday’s march, state Attorney General Maura Healey delivered an impassioned warning to President Trump if he tried to reduce health care coverage, defund Planned Parenthood, or harm the environment.

    “The message from the people of Massachusetts is: We’ll see you in court!” she shouted.

    Healey could use some help in the form of amicus briefs to support her potential legal challenges. So if you are a lawyer -- and I know there are a lot of you in Massachusetts — your services are needed. Join the amicus committee, for example, of the Women’s Bar Association, or get in touch with the Planned Parenthood of Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts.

    With Trump’s executive order restricting immigration, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition could use more lawyers donating their time. How many? About 200, executive director Eva Millona tells me.

    “We are preparing for the worst,” said Millona. “People are anxious. People are scared. People are terrified. They don’t know what the future holds.”

    There are about 210,000 unauthorized immigrants at the risk of deportation in Massachusetts. More than 7,000 young immigrants have temporary reprieves from deportation, but it’s unclear what might happen to them.

    Similarly, the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group, also anticipates that it will need to lawyer up as the new administration takes down regulations. Already, the foundation has about two dozen volunteers including lawyers, engineers, and economists, as well as a dozen law firms working pro bono.

    Brad Campbell, the foundation’s president, said he could use another two dozen volunteers with similar expertise and another half-dozen law firms. Campbell made a special appeal to retired professionals who want to keep busy.

    “There is no end of work to do given the promises Trump has made to the fossil fuel industry and the speed to which he seems to be executing those promises,” said Campbell.

    Donate to causes and candidates. If you value reproductive rights, consider donating to the nonpartisan Planned Parenthood Action Fund; if you want to protect the environment, the Conservation Law Foundation appreciates a check. If you want to support women in public office, the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus invites to you to host a Parity PAC Party to fundraise for local female candidates.

    Then there are people like Jenny Armini, an independent who supported Hillary Clinton and marched on Saturday in opposition to Trump’s policies. Protesting was step one; changing Republican-controlled Congress will be step two.

    So the Marblehead resident started what she describes as an “investing club” for politics, in which members pool their money together, do research, and decide which Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents to support in competitive Congressional races across the country.

    “The only check on this president obviously is Congress,” said Armini. “We’ve got to do what we can to increase the numbers.”

    Not wasting any time, the first meeting of the Marblehead Fund for Democratic Action was Thursday.

    Support Black Lives Matter. The social media (and traditional media) have been blowing up over whether the Women’s March was just another display of white privilege. Hundreds of thousands of women — many of them white — were allowed to march peacefully without fear of arrest or being pepper sprayed by police. Seemed like a double standard compared to the crackdowns at Black Lives Matter demonstrations organized to protest unarmed black men shot by police.

    OK, let’s just stop here. So the women’s march goes off without a hitch, and someone has a problem with that? Yes, white women primarily participated, but plenty people of color attended as well.

    In the spirit of all of us trying to get along, I reached out to Rev. Karlene Griffiths Sekou, one of the core organizers of Black Lives Matter Boston. She issued a statement, saying that her group supports immigrants, the lesbian-gay-bisesexual-transgender community, and others who have felt hurt by white supremacy.

    “We welcome forging partnerships with other freedom fighters and coalitions who endeavor to support and join our struggle for justice and affirmation of dignity of ALL persons,” she said.

    You can start building that solidarity with an e-mail:

    Shirley Leung is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @leung.