The Women's March announced on Monday Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour were stepping down from their positions after helping to found the organization in 2016.
In a statement, the Women's March announced 17 new board members and said Sarsour and Mallory "will transition off of the Women’s March Board and onto other projects focused on advocacy within their respective organizations."
"The goal of the new board is to continue to ignite civic imagination and action in communities all across the country," the statement read.
"The Women’s March Board will enter into this next phase focusing on leadership development, rapid response, and building political power in partnership with the hard-working Women’s March staff and chapter leaders around the country, allied organizations and partners and alongside the efforts of millions of volunteers and marchers around the world," the statement added.
While organizing massive, influential protests against President Donald Trump over the past three years, the Women's March has been beset by scandals, controversies and in-fighting.
Most recently, the organization backed off a heavily-criticized attempt to trademark the term "women's march." Local organizations within the Women's March were outraged by the move and actively protested the decision until the group's leadership gave up the fight at the beginning of the year.
For almost two years, there has been a rift between Sarsour, Mallory and some of the leadership team. Mallory has defended herself against allegations of anti-semitism and homophobia because of her repeated praise of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of The Nation of Islam.
Farrakhan continues to make violently anti-semitic and homophobic statements on Facebook, Twitter and in his speeches. He repeatedly refers to Jews as "termites," routinely calls for their extermination and often praises Hitler in his sermons.
— MINISTER FARRAKHAN (@LouisFarrakhan) March 7, 2018
Despite the allegations, Mallory posted a photo of herself with Farrakhan in 2017 and added the caption: "Thank God this man is still alive and doing well. He is definitely the GOAT. Happy Birthday."
Since the 2017 post, Jewish rights groups, LGBTQAI organizations and other activists within the Women's March have asked Mallory to apologize, take down the post and repudiate Farrakhan. She has refused to apologize, saying in multiple interviews The Nation of Islam helped her after her son's father was tragically killed in a shooting.
In a personal response published by Newsone in 2018, Mallory again defended her relationship with Farrakhan.
"I have heard the pain and concerns of my LGBTQAI siblings, my Jewish friends and Black women (including those who do and those who don’t check off either of those other boxes.) I affirm the validity of those feelings, and as I continue to grow and learn as both an activist and as a woman, I will continue to grapple with the complicated nature of working across ideological lines and the question of how to do so without causing harm to vulnerable people," Mallory wrote.
"My work requires an operational unity that is sometimes extremely painful and uncomfortable, even for me. But I push forward even when I am personally conflicted because our people are more important," she added.
Due to her association with Mallory and advocacy for Palestine, Sarsour has also faced a number of accusations of anti-semitism. Many, however, have come to her defense, highlighting her work with the Jewish community and efforts to raise money for Jewish initiatives.
"In the case of Sarsour, a Palestinian American who is sharply critical of the state of Israel’s continuing subjugation of Palestinians, it’s difficult to see that scrutiny as anything but bad faith, and consistent with often Islamophobic attacks that conflate anti-Semitism with any criticism of the actions of the Israeli government. Those attacks, under a veneer of social justice, are straightforward attempts to smear and delegitimize Sarsour, whose pro-Palestinian stance is an affront to those who refuse to entertain any negative judgment of the Israeli government," Jezebel reporter Esther Wang wrote in 2018.
The Washington Post contacted both women to ask them about the announcement. Mallory did not respond but Sarsour was enthusiastic about the new board members and the direction of the organization.
“I am grateful to the women who stepped up to shepherd the Women’s March. This is what women supporting women looks like,” she told The Washington Post over text.
The Women's March touted the diversity of the new board members and said they were dedicated to getting back to the work that initially brought thousands of women out into the streets in 2016.
"In the first three years, Women’s March organized three of the four largest mobilizations in the nation's history, the largest women-led civil disobedience in protest of unjust immigration policies, and the month-long action that nearly prevented Brett Kavanaugh from being confirmed to the Supreme Court," the Women's March statement said.
"The first major action under the leadership of the new board will be a rally to #ReclaimtheCourt in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 6 to protest Brett Kavanaugh and his work to overturn Roe v. Wade."