Transcript for Tamika Mallory and Bob Bland discuss Women's March controversy
women's March has been a rallying cry answered by over 5 million women worldwide. I wauksd walked the streets here in New York but this year in ugly accusations and controversies overshadowed this amazing movement. So we are here -- so here to tell us what they're going to do to make things right, please welcome the co-presidents of the women's March, Tamika Mallory and Bob bland. Yes, Bob bland. So, the first women's March took place the day after the new guy was inaugurated on January 21st, and it became one of the largest protests in history and it happened all over the country. You organized D.C. What was your response when you saw how people were coming out? Well, I mean, it was incredible. Obviously the turnout and also just all of the emotion that went into the planning, we actually organized not just D.C., nationally and internationally. So it was a lot of work that went into that day and obviously the culmination of it was great. But many of us, particularly the women of color, who stepped in to be leaders, we were called to come and be leaders of the March to ensure that the March was diverse, we weren't really shocked that people were so angry and had such an intense feeling. We knew that this country was in trouble and that there was a moment in history that would come that we would all need to be called to the table to address it. I just as a new activist, looking at one point 2 million women and allies just in D.C. Alone, I saw that these are the leaders we've been waiting for and we always wanted to see these women become the face of our leadership and the face of the nation and I think that what we saw in the midterm elections where we saw historical outpouring of thousands of women running for office and in the congress alone over 10 oncoming into congress for the first time. There has been some controversy surrounding the women's March organization. Tamika, you came under some fire for your relationship with Louis farrakhan and the nation of Islam. Now, he's known for being anti-semitic, for being homophobic, but you do attend his events and you posted, I believe, a photo together calling him the G.O.A.T., which means the greatest of all time. And you are running an organization that says it fights bigotry. Do you understand why your association with him is quite problematic? I think it's important to put my attendance, my presence at savior's day which is the highest holy day for the nation of Islam in proper context. As a leader, as a black leader in a country that is still dealing with some very serious unresolved issues as it relates to the black experience in this country, I go into a lot of difficult spaces. I wrote a piece immediately following the beginning of this controversy talking about wherever my people are, that's where I must also be. So I also go into prisons where there are people who have been convicted of heinous acts and I am trying to help people to move from wherever they are today and build that unity to bring them to a place where we live in a more fair and equitable society, and I think that that work is not easy for everyone to understand but it's certainly work that I'm committed to. Everywhere that I go is difficult. The women's March was very difficult. I met with a lot of women who did not even understand why race was important to be a part of the conversation as it relates to women's rights issues, and there was a lot of, you know, offensive rhetoric that I heard. Just because you go into a space with someone does not mean that you agree with everything that they say. But let me push back a little bit. Why call him the greatest of all time? I didn't call him the greatest of all time because of his rhetoric but because of what he's done in black communities. I think that -- Let me interject really quickly. I would never be comfortable supporting someone who called an anti-sem might, the false Jews promoting lesbianism, homosexuality. He spoke with a journalist at "Tablet" magazine who released a report and they allege there's a lot of anti-semitism surrounding this March and specifically you, Tamika, they asserted jewish people were proven to be leaders of the American slave trade. A lot of people and I include me in this think you're using your organization as anti-semitism masked in activism and using identity politics. You're talking about all women being invited to that March. I'm pro life. We were not invited to that March. I'm a conservative woman. If you're talking about all women including jewish women as well and conservative women. Well Meghan -- Are those allegations true? First of all, those allegations are not true. That is not how that meeting happened. The women's March -- The journalist I spoke to was lying? The people that the journalist spoke to did not tell the truth, period. Full stop. And I think it's important for us to understand and I'll be very clear in this room that the women's March unequivalentablely condemns anti-semitism. You condemn farrakhan's remarks about jewish people? Yes. We have repeatedly in statement after statement this year which are available directly on our website for anyone to read, we condemn any statements of hate and we've actually been working so hard over the last two years to fight this type of hate over and over again. We're committed to repairing any harm because we understand that the jewish community is feeling hurt right now. We want to make sure -- I don't speak for jewish people but I think I'm just confused. These remarks are -- I mean, it goes on, death to Israel over and over again. We did not make those remarks. But you're associating with a man who does publicly. What I will say to you is that I don't agree with many of minister farrakhan's statements. Specifically about jewish people? As I said, I don't agree with many of minister farrakhan's statements. Do you contempt them? I don't agree with these statements. At the end of the day -- You won't condemn it. To be clear, it's not my language. It's not the way that I speak. It's not how I organize and I think its very clear over the 20 years of my own personal activism, my own personal track record who I am and that I should never be judged through the lens of a man. That is actually not what this movement is supposed to be about. I don't want to be judged through the lens of something that's speaking for all women when you're associating with extreme anti-semitism. Are you comfortable, both of you, being on stage with a trump supporter, someone who's pro life, someone who is very -- Yes, we are. You're going to have a trump supporting conservative pro life woman with you at the next March? There's no prerequisite -- Except pro life women. That is not true. I actually have pro life women in my family who, as a result of the women's March, have been engaging in what we call courageous conversations with me over the last two years that have helped expand all of our understanding. We welcome pro life women. We welcome conservative women to the women's March. The women's March is open to all. I appreciate you both coming and speaking -- So my last question is, do you understand why people feel that you stepping down might put some air between all of this before a conversation can continue? I also deal with people who don't want me to step down. So there's both sides of that. There are people who actually support my leadership and I am willing to lead until my term at women's March is up. Okay. Thank you guys for coming.
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