Nina Turner on the Women’s March on Washington
The former Ohio state senator and Sanders delegate says her biggest concern is how to sustain the synergy from the grassroots
SHARMINI PERIES: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.
Organizers of the Woman’s March on Washington, that took place on Saturday, reported that three to five million women marched in various cities. That was really 673 demonstrations, including: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles. They expected a huge turnout here nationally, but what was unprecedented, was the international turnout. What surprised most everyone was the numbers that turned out in these demonstrations.
Toronto had 50 to 60,000. London had 100,000. Sydney, Australia, had 70,000. Brazil, Israel and the list goes on.
On to talk about the Women’s March on Washington, and beyond, is former Ohio Senator and college professor, Nina Turner. She’s a college professor, and she is well known for being a speaker for Senator Sanders, or what they call a surrogate, for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Presidential elections. We’re so happy to have you with us, Senator Turner.
NINA TURNER: So glad to join you.
SHARMINI PERIES: So, Senator Turner, what is your overall reaction to this women’s march that turned out, particularly in D.C., but nationally and internationally? What do you think of it, and what do you think the impact of it will be?
NINA TURNER: It was powerful. I was actually in D.C. during that march, in that part of the world, because you’re absolutely right, it was an international event. And I got a chance to talk to some of the women. There were women and men there. Men who support the sisters from all over the country, they were right there in D.C., and as you laid out, some of the other cities across this country, where people were.
But I did get a chance to talk to some of the women, and I met two sisters who were actually — not only did they say they were marching for their daughters, but they were also marching for, as they described it, their sisters and brothers in the rural parts of their state, suburban and urban. And I found that really interesting that they were taking on the charge of really marching for everybody in their state, no matter where they were located within the community.
But it was lots of comradery going on, lots of signs. Some of them are not so PG, so I can’t repeat some of the stuff, but people got very creative. But there was an energy, and a synergy there, from the grass roots, to some of the more well-known actresses in particular, political types that were there — a strong showing. My biggest concern is, where do we go from here?
SHARMINI PERIES: Senator Turner, the Donald Trump speakers out there yesterday and Saturday, were basically dismissing this as sore losers, those who supported Hillary Clinton. Out there marching and dismissing the significance and the numbers that turned out. And many Democrats turned out too, in fact. Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, they all marched in this demonstration.
What should the political expression of this movement be? What is the place of these progressive elements of the people that marched on Saturday, what should it be?
NINA TURNER: That this is certainly a beginning, an outcry, if you will, but it cannot be solely based on the election of President Trump. It really should be based on a movement to continue the progress in this nation, of social justice, economic justice, and political justice. All of which were fights that we have been fighting in this country for many generations. I mean, right now as we sit, there are about 50 million people in this country who are on the brink of poverty, and another 50 million who are actually in poverty. That for example, started before Mr. Trump took the oath of office.
When we look at places like Flint, and other major centers in this country, that suffer from bad… from dirty water, unclean water, we know that Flint has certainly been the canary in the coal mine. But we have some challenges in this country that certainly predate the inauguration of Mr. Trump. So, all in all, it certainly is a good way to express, and to stand up to say to the new administration, that, “We expect you, President Trump, to adhere to most of the things that you said on that campaign trail, that the people who were marching agree with, i.e., more jobs in this country and investing in infrastructure.”
But that there are millions of people in this country, and across the world, who will be watching and not only watching, but who will stand up for progress in this nation. If that was one take-away, I really do believe that that movement — and people had their own individual reasons — but I believe collectively the movement that we saw this past weekend, is really about cementing progress, and not allowing our nation to go backward.
SHARMINI PERIES: Right. And one of the main things that I kept hearing from people in the march, reiterated again and again, is that they felt compelled to show up, because of the misogyny. Because of the racism, and because of the kinds of mockery that Donald Trump had made against people with disabilities, and you know, people felt compelled to be there. To voice their resistance that inaugurating Donald Trump the day before, does not mean he represents them.
And so, this is where I think the, really, the intersectionality of all of our issues, the collective force, needs to come about. We need to be able to see people like you, Senator Turner, you know, taking up your rightful role in this struggle, and taking a seat at the table with power, and negotiating on behalf of all of us.
So, can you — give us some specifics as to how you see this integration, and the force of the people that we often talk about here in Baltimore, and the mothers that are carrying the burden of having their children shot by police, and wanting to do something about it. Which is only going to get worse with this administration?
NINA TURNER: Well, I hope not. I mean, police forces are controlled locally. I served the Mayor in the City of Cleveland. I was also a Cleveland City Councilwoman. So, local officials are in charge of police officers and the police force. And ideally mayors are, and many of our cities in this country are, controlled by Democrats. So, I would hope that it does not get worse.
I do know that President Trump talked about law and order on the campaign trail, which appealed to a certain aspect of those who were supporting him. But I would say, as I said in the past, that you can’t have law and order without respect. You can’t have law and order without transparency. You can’t have law and order without a relationship with the community that our law enforcement folks serve.
My husband is a former police officer. Our son is in law enforcement right now. So, I get both sides of that. So, I’m hoping that we will not go back. That law enforcement agencies fully understand that the best way to keep our communities safe, and keep them safe, is really by relationships with communities. But you’re absolutely right, the grieving mothers in this country, and fathers in this country, we have much work to do.
And so, you bring up a very good point, in that, one of the things, even though there was a show of force this weekend, it is my sincere hope that people will take that energy and that synergy to keep this fight for justice. However you define it, going beyond the Presidency of Mr. Trump. That may have been what started people on this path, but a lot of the isms: sexism, racism, classism, the divides, that we have in this nation, started before him.
He certainly has an obligation, as the leader of this nation, to try to bring people together, but we as individuals have an obligation as well. And you know what? We have to win elections. I mean, progressive folks have to win elections, so that then we will have the political power to put in place the policies that we would like to see. So, whether it’s protecting reproductive rights. Whether it’s protecting and expanding access to the ballot box. Whether it’s making sure that not only police officers have the requisite training, cultural competency training, and the monies that are needed in local communities to bring back community policing.
But those are all a part and parcel of winning elections, from school board member, all the way to the presidency of the United States. And as you know, we have certainly lost a lot of ground, elected office ground, on the state level of government. And we’ve got to do something about it.
So, I’m hoping that the people, who marched, will either run for office, or support candidates that are running for state legislatures, and who are running for governor and secretaries of states and etc.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Senator Turner. I thank you so much for joining us today. This is ongoing, and a long conversation which we hope to be having with you on a regular basis. Thank you so much.
NINA TURNER: Thank you, my absolute pleasure.
SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.