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`Sisters' to gather in Philadelphia for Million Woman March

They've gathered for rallies in Chicago, held garage sales in Minnesota and designed elaborate Web sites in cyberspace.

After months of mobilizing and fund-raising, throngs of women plan to pour into Philadelphia on Oct. 25 for a Million Woman March designed to revitalize black families and communities.Organizers told city officials they expect 500,000 but told reporters that far more will march two miles from Independence Hall to a daylong rally at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

"We are still looking for a million-plus sisters," said Jackie McDowell, a national coordinator for the grassroots effort.

The event, open to both genders and all races, has lacked the fanfare of the Million Man March two years ago in Washington. But regional coordinators report a surge of interest in the past two weeks because of increased publicity and better organization.

"We are bombarded now," said Wessita McKinley, spokeswoman for the Washington-Virginia-Maryland organization, which has hired 55 buses so far to take some 2,530 participants to Philadelphia.

"This is going to be a historical event," she said. "They're just coming to support their sisters, to see what they can do as a collective effort to better ourselves, our race, our families and our community."

Winnie Mandela, former wife of South African President Nelson Mandela, is to be the keynote speaker. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and singer Sister Souljah also are scheduled.