WASHINGTON, D.C.–Women of Power from 10 states celebrated International Women’s History Month with a bang, converging on the nation’s capitol to visit elected officials reminding them that Black women voted in record numbers in November. They expect our leaders to stop the partisan politics and pass legislation that creates good paying jobs with livable wages, increase small business opportunities for women, reduce gun violence in our communities, and invest in our children’s education.
The visits to Capitol Hill and the White House are part of the Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) National Women of Power Summit that took place March 12-14 at the National Education Association’s Headquarters, 1201 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC. Themed ‘Amplifying the Voices of Women and Girls in the Digital Age,’ keynote speakers included: Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, the U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom, U. S. State Department and Susan L. Taylor, founder and president, National CARES Mentoring Movement and editor-in-chief emerita, Essence magazine.
“We’re coming together in the nation’s capitol to leverage our vote,” said Melanie L. Campbell, convener Black Women’s Roundtable and president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
The first day of the conference was Public Policy Day so BWR delegates visited legislators and attended a briefing with representatives from Congress and the Federal Communications Commission. Invited congressional members included: Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Donna M. Christensen (D- U.S. Virgin Islands). Later in the day the group went to the White House for a Public Policy Briefing. Sharhonda Knott Lawson of Chicago Black Women’s Roundtable spoke on gun violence reform.
Civic Engagement and Global Empowerment Day opened with faith and social justice prayer breakfast and roundtable discussion. Other roundtable topics included: labor, education and social justice; voting rights and social justice; women and girls, health and wellness empowerment; business, education and economic empowerment; and global empowerment and sustainability.
Saturday March 16 is Community Day and will be held at Shiloh Baptist Church, 1500 9th Street, NW in D.C. from 11 am-5 pm. Community Day family-oriented activities include Love You More! Health & Wellness Walk, a Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Health Fair and Mini-Expo, a girls tech camp, and group exercises. Community Day is free to the public.
Made possible by Verizon Foundation, National Education Association, United Healthcare Plans, American Postal Workers Union, National Urban League and other sponsors, the BWR National Summit will feature workshops on healthy living, equal pay, financial planning, mental health and entrepreneurship. Skills-building sessions will train organizers on utilizing new technology, mentoring, issue organizing and special enrichment sessions for girls and teens.
Diane Babineaux, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers; Chanelle Hardy, National Urban League; Nicole Lee, TransAfrica Forum; Rev. Marcia Dyson, Women’s Global Initiative; Meshelle Forman Shields, author and comedian; Lauren Darensbourgh, President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition; and Clayola Brown, A. Philip Randolph Institute, are among the diverse offering of panelists and speakers.
Black Women’s Roundtable is an intergenerational network of The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to increasing civic engagement in Black and underserved communities. BWR brings together diverse women to motivate Black women to engage in all levels of civil society.