When Evvie Harmon organized her first march as a College of Charleston student in 2008, she had no idea she’d be orchestrating hundreds of demonstrations across the globe for what could be one of the world’s largest coordinated protests in recent history.
Harmon, a 2012 grad, is a co-founder and global coordinator for the Women’s March on Washington, which is set to step off in D.C. and hundreds of other cities worldwide on the Saturday morning in response to the inauguration of President Donald Trump. She says her experiences as a theatre major and CofC student helped her gain the skills she needed to pull off the massive undertaking.
Her involvement in the march began just after Election Day, when the Greenville resident decided to make a Facebook event for demonstrations in South Carolina after seeing the original listing for the Women’s March on Washington. She sent her page to the original event’s creator, Theresa Shook, and quickly began helping organize other sister events stateside.
“This is a neat thing,” she says. “South Carolina was the first (state event page).”
Within a week, she says, the event went global.
“We had London. Oslo. Places in Canada. We had Geneva and Sydney,” she says. “It was clear to me that this was going to be a global movement, not just the U.S.”
Since then, more than 80 cities abroad have organized marches. In all, there will be more than 600 demonstrations in more than 50 countries. All seven continents – including Antarctica – are represented.
Harmon, who’s been in Washington most of this week, says that her days since Election Day have been filled with press inquiries, organizational meetings and attempts to nail down accurate head counts for the protests – the latest estimates indicate the Washington march will have about 200,000 participants – but everything is “moving like clockwork.”
“I think (Wednesday) was 11 weeks,” she says. “It seems like I’ve been doing this for five years.”
It’s a big step from her first stab at activism. Harmon says that as a CofC student, she organized Charleston-area demonstrations for Join the Impact – an LGBTQ rights group created after California voters passed a 2008 ballot initiative known as Proposition 8, which amended the state’s constitution to bar same-sex marriage. The group held marches across the country, including in Charleston, on Nov. 15, 2008, in protest of the law, which was later ruled unconstitutional in federal court.
Harmon says she never could have imagined playing such a major role in a worldwide movement less than a decade later.
“When I did Join the Impact I could have never seen this happening,” she says. “But I never could have foreseen Donald Trump winning the election.”
She says her studies in the Department of Theatre and Dance also helped give her the skills she needed to help organize the demonstrations. She learned to trust others from ensemble work and how to study human behavior. She also credited associate professors Joy Vandervort-Cobb, Evan Parry and Todd McNerney as her “three main mentors” during her days as an undergrad.
“So much of my organizing and how I organize things I learned from the theatre department at CofC,” she says.
Harmon says she doesn’t plan to stop her activism after Saturday’s marches. She is planning other demonstrations and efforts in South Carolina — including one to ensure oil companies don’t drill off the coast.
“I want to make sure people in the Lowcountry know that the Women’s March in South Carolina is going to continue growing strong,” she says.