Weeks after Women's March Chicago announced there would be no march in the city this month, a young activist is organizing a rally in the Loop in support of the national movement.
The rally, organized by an activist aligned with Women's March Illinois, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 19 at Federal Plaza, located at Adams and Dearborn streets, according to a news release. The event is not associated with Women's March Chicago. A list of speakers had not been announced as of Tuesday.
"It is time for the next generation to raise their voices, and commit to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive spaces for all," the news release stated.
Jazmine-Marie Cruz, 19, is a freshman at Roosevelt University and is leading efforts to organize the gathering. Cruz started planning the rally, the first she's organized, on Saturday and already is expecting at least 600 people to attend. She started working toward the rally after learning that Women's March Chicago wasn't holding a march this year. Cruz said she thought it was important for Chicago to be represented in the national movement.
"The community is so diverse," she said about Chicago. "I want people to be empowered, to feel like there will be change. I think with the government shutdown, people feel powerless."
Cruz is from Kenosha, Wis., and she attended last year's Women's March in Milwaukee and walked away feeling inspired.
"It was so important to me, and I was so inspired by women there," she said.
Cruz has spent the past couple of days trying to connect with other young activists in Chicago to get their support for the rally.
"I want people to see that the next generation is ready and able to continue the fight that so many others started for us," Cruz said. "We are ready to fight for humanity and to fight for equal rights and equal pay and to fight against hate and racial and gender discrimination."
She has identified 10 issues as priorities for those attending the rally, from environmental justice to immigrants' rights.
The announcement comes weeks after Women's March Chicago announced it would not organize the annual march in January that in the past had drawn thousands of participants to the Loop. Organizers cited high costs as one of the reasons they weren't planning the march this year.
Nationally, Women's March leadership has been rocked by claims of anti-Semitism, in part because of a founder's ties to Louis Farrakhan, whose Chicago-based Nation of Islam has been labeled an anti-Semitic hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Chicago Tribune's Angie Leventis Lourgos contributed.