Million Woman March Leaders Preparing For Their Next Big Step Organizers Are Tying Up Some Loose Ends. Then They Will Turn Their Attention To 12 Platform Issues And Mobilizing Volunteers.

Posted: October 28, 1997

On Sunday they rested.

But yesterday, the organizers of the Million Woman March were back at work, two days after pulling off the historic march that drew an estimated 500,000 black women to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday.

``I'm sore from walking, from being out in the dampness all day,'' co-founder Asia Coney said. ``But we're still taking care of business.''

As the last of the marchers filtered in and out of the march's headquarters at 4601 Market St. in search of mementos and hugs - which, unlike the T-shirts, posters and buttons, were freely dispensed - Coney and march co-founder Phile Chionesu strategized about how to continue to build on the momentum the march had generated.

And they accepted the thanks offered by the marchers who were leaving town, still invigorated by the spirit of the weekend.

``This was all that and a bag of nuts,'' said De-Borah Yahvah, who led a contingent of women from Atlanta. ``This has opened the door for our freedom. The march continues. Let the work begin.'' The women were driving back to Atlanta yesterday afternoon.

Apart from doing some basic housekeeping - like taking inventory, and double-checking accounting records and pledges - the co-organizers were awaiting transcripts from a series of workshops, held throughout Philadelphia during the week of the march and addressing the 12 platform issues, ``to give us a sense of direction,'' Coney said.

Chionesu and Coney will be focusing on organizing volunteers and connecting with people in other states. During planning for the march, a three-pronged organization was formed: the march's national steering committee; Sisters Organizing Sisters, which in effect served as the local organizing committees in various states; and Sisters in Support, those women from other organizations who gave their support to march activities.

``We're talking about the blending of all our resources to show that this movement has evolved out of all kinds of women, professional and nonprofessional,'' said Coney.

``You're talking about one million sisters. That is power.''

Meanwhile, the saga of the Winanses, Angie and Debbie, gospel singers who had hoped to sing at the march, was revealed. The duo had arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon hoping to sing. They already had been talked out of performing their controversial song, ``It's Not Natural,'' with its anti-gay theme. The Winanses were planning to sing another tune from their latest CD, but they never made it to the stage. They left town without performing because of an apparent series of miscommunications, their publicist said.

The Winanses were told by a march representative that a car would be sent to pick them up Saturday afternoon at their hotel, the Clarion Suites on Race Street, according to Bill Carpenter, publicist for the Winans sisters.

After a 2 1/2-hour wait, repeated calls to the march headquarters and no car, the sisters checked out of the hotel, piled their luggage into a rental car, and attempted to drive to the event. Their car made it through about 10 police barricades before an officer stopped them and told them they could not proceed or park their car nearby, Carpenter said.

Frustrated, the Winans sisters headed for Philadelphia International Airport, where they were scheduled to board a 7 p.m. plane.

It was one of the few glitches in a day that exceeded everyone's expectations.

Now the organizers are working to keep the focus on the 12-point agenda, issues that relate to homelessness, penal reform, the development of black independent schools and rites-of-passage centers, health care, entrepreneurship, community upkeep, elders' rights and drug infusion in African American communities.

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