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News from the Black Women's Roundtable

Issue 1 May/June 2009

In This Issue

  • White House Domestic Policy Agenda
  • Congressional Black Caucus
  • New Editorial Series
  • Council on Women & Girls

Welcome to the Black Women's Roundtable

Dear Sisters & Brothers,

It is a special pleasure to recap the activities of the Black Women's Roundtable during the first 100 Days of the Obama Administration and to announce that our Supreme Court Watch is a top priority for the next 100 days or until Judge Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed.

After working for a generation to increase Black civic participation I am extremely proud of the overall 2008 Black voter turnout, especially Black women who out-performed all other groups. Realizing the potency of our franchise we began to organize to better leverage our power and the Black Women's Roundtable has been reinvigorated.

You will find that the Black Women's Roundtable is a diverse, intergenerational group of Black women leaders of international, national, regional and community-based organizations, and institutions working to advance policies that help to improve the quality of life for Black women and our communities.

We also celebrate the appointment of Ursula Burns, President of Xerox, the first African American female CEO of a Fortune 500 Company. This truly is our time!

Together, the BWR membership represents the issues and concerns of millions of Americans and families who live across the United States and around the world.

We are counting on your support and participation.

In Sisterhood,
Melanie L. Campbell

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Black Womn's Roundtable Statements on the Nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court

Washington, DC- Following are statements from the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) and NCBCP Black Women's Roundtable on President Obama's announcement of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

From NCBCP executive director and CEO,Melanie L. Campbell:

"On behalf of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Black Women's Roundtable, I would like to congratulate President Obama on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to succeed Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The National Coalition's 2009 theme is "Celebrating Our Sisters," and what better way to celebrate Sisterhood than to witness the appointment of a highly qualified Puerto Rican woman to the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to her impeccable credentials, her wide range of legal and judicial experience, and her reputation for being tough on the bench, Judge Sotomayor epitomizes the American dream. Her successful journey from the projects in the South Bronx to the federal bench is a clear indication that she understands the struggles of people on main street.

"Today is a proud day in American history with the nomination of the first Latino to the highest court of the United States. We are advising our members, state affiliates, constituents, friends, family and neighbors to contact their Senators urging them to move forward quickly to confirm our distinguished sister, Judge Sotomayor, to the Supreme Court."

From Barbara Williams Skinner, president, Skinner Leadership Institute and member of NCBCP Black Women's Roundtable:

"As an African American woman, I could not be prouder of President Obama's historic nomination of a phenomenal woman, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, as the first Latina woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only is she extraordinarily well qualified and experienced judicially. She also embodies the kind of level-headed sensitivity to the pressing needs of ordinary citizens that is so critical for justices today."

From Felicia M. Davis, president, Just Environment and member of NCBCP Black Women's Roundtable Atlanta:

"As long as I can remember I have longed for the appointment of an African American woman to the United States Supreme Court as the most transformational act that I could imagine. Remarkably, Sonia Sotomayor's story resonates as deeply as any I could imagine. I am proud to join in celebrating the nomination of such an exceptional woman and historic first. It is my hope that the confirmation process will move expeditiously with strong bi-partisan support. Women of color share in this nomination in a special way and we are confronted with a unique opportunity to rally all women in support of an eminently qualified candidate that will also bring much needed diversity to our highest court."

From Susan L. Taylor, president, Essence Cares and member of NCBCP Black Women's Roundtable:

"I am so excited for our Hispanic sisters and brothers--and for all Americans. The United States is becoming the nation it ought to be. Sonia Sotomayor's success is a shining example of what is possible for our young living in poverty and filling up prisons. When we find the courage to reshape public policies to fix failing schools, the children will succeed."

Spirit of Democracy Awards Dinner Celebrates Women

Congresswoman Barbara Lee; actress, Sheryl Lee Ralph; editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence, Susan Taylor; and retired Command Sergeant Major, Michele S. Jones; received the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation's (NCBCP) 2009 Spirit of Democracy Award during the Twelfth Annual Spirit of Democracy Awards Dinner, held recently in Washington, DC.

Domestic Policy-BWR Priority #1

With local unemployment rates as high as an astronomical 50% in Black communities hardest hit by the economic recession, the Economy remains the top priority for the Black Women's Roundtable. In a January meeting with White House Domestic Policy Advisor Melody Barnes, BWR outlined specific domestic policy concerns and recommendations. After a hearty DC welcome, jobs, housing foreclosures, small business contracts, and quality education were among the concerns discussed with the senior Obama advisor. BWR Working Group members help to coordinate Roundtable participation in various economic task force meetings and help to refine and advance policies responsive to the needs of women and their families.  (See BWR's Policy Agenda)

BWR Meets with CBC Leadership

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Chair, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) recently hosted a special meeting for BWR to share our priority issues with CBC leaders. Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Congressman Bobby Rush were present and several CBC staff members attended as well. Each CBC member shared their current policy priorities. Congresswoman Lee agreed to host quarterly meetings with the BWR during the 111th Congress.

Additionally, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has released a resource guide for African Americans on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The guide is designed to inform African Americans about the economic opportunities for individuals and families under the Act. It also shows how funding streams will be distributed to revitalize and strengthen local communities nationwide. Click here to download the PDF report.

Links to Whispering Out Loud Op-Ed Series:

Melanie Campbell
Dr. Dorothy Height
Dr. Barbara Skinner
Felicia Davis
Susan Taylor

White House Agenda for Women & Girls

President Barack Obama has created The White House Council on Women and Girls (WHCWG). The WHCWG is designed to help provide a coordinated federal response to issues of importance to women and girls. It is also in place to ensure that all cabinet and cabinet-level offices and agencies consider the impact on women and girls in their decision-making process. BWR recently met with Tina Tchen, Director, White House Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director, WHCWG, about issues of concern to Black women and girls. BWR appreciates the open door policy of the White House Office of Public Engagement and looks forward to building a working relationship on behalf of women and girls. BWR applauds the efforts of the Obama Administration in the creation of the WHCWG. BWR remains focused on the goals and concerns of women, most specifically Black women and girls, and will continue to pursue and monitor progress in this arena.

Sojourner Truth Unveiled in US Capitol

"I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the first lady of the United States of America," the First Lady said in reference to her family history.

Talking Tea Cups...

Black Women's Roundtable hosted a lovely intergenerational tea at the National Council of Negro Women's headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue. Incorporating a green theme, each woman arrived with her own personal tea cup and shared a "tea cup" story with the group. The event went beyond networking to the sacred sphere of sisterhood and bonding. Cherishing special memories, sharing contemporary challenges, and imagining worlds to come...the event was punctuated with laughter, wisdom, and compassion.

Stay Tuned for Upcoming BWR Brown Bag Topics:

  • Stimulus ABCs--Access, Business Opportunities & Contracts
  • Going Green--Conversation with EPA
  • Supreme Court Watch

About the Black Women's Roundtable

POLICY STATEMENT: NCBCP BWR promotes public policies that ensure stable families and a prepared workforce for today and tomorrow. BWR believes that there must be intentional efforts, including program development, funding, staffing, administrative practice and rule of law to ensure genuine equity -- especially for women, communities of color, low income communities and others that have been traditionally left out of the policymaking arena . Key areas of focus include:

HEALTH AND WELLNESS: BWR supports health policies that deliver quality health care for all, strengthens the safety net for America's most vulnerable communities, and addresses disparities in care -- particularly for children, the elderly, persons living with HIV/AIDS, and low-income families. BWR encourages prevention policies that increase research for diseases adversely impacting women and communities of color. BWR supports wellness policies that increase access to physical fitness and mental health services.

ECONOMIC SECURITY: BWR promotes effective economic policies that prioritize investment in human capital, creates new market high-wage jobs, supports small businesses, facilitates entrepreneurship, and builds sustainable comprehensive neighborhood revitalization by investing in existing community assets. BWR supports policies that seek to expand the middle class, reduce wealth disparities, and improve financial literacy. BWR believes that eradicating poverty should be a policy priority, as it is the key to rebuilding and sustaining a strong domestic and global economy.

EDUCATION: BWR encourages increased investment in a culturally responsive educational platform that aggressively tackles achievement disparities in underserved and underachieving public schools. BWR supports increasing opportunities for girls and women to participate in the sciences, technology and training for the new green-jobs economy. BWR promotes mentoring as a pipeline to college for low-income, traditionally underserved students and as a simple, low-cost solution to the massive social problems impacting the lives and communities of too many of our nation's young people. BWR encourages affordable higher-education opportunities and increased support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

GLOBAL EMPOWERMENT: BWR supports alliances between the United States and the African Diaspora that expand economic opportunities, gender equity, human rights and eradicating violence against women. BWR encourages partnerships that foster sustainable growth in emerging communities around the world.

THE BLACK WOMEN'S ROUNDTABLE
Dr. Dorothy I. Height
Ms. Melanie L. Campbell
Dr. Lezli Baskerville
Ms. Lisa Fager Bediako
Ms. Roslyn Brock
Ms. Carla Brooks
Ms. Clayola Brown
Ms. Alfreda Davis
Ms. Edrea Davis
Ms. Felicia Davis
Ms. Lakimba Desadier-Walker
Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever
Rev. Marcia Dyson
Ms. Jotaka Eaddy
Ms. Suzanne Fuller
Rev. Dr. Brenda Girton-Mitchell
Ms. Nancy Harvin
Ms. Patricia R. Hobson
Ms. Alexis Holmes
Ms. Arlene Holt-Baker
Ms. Gaea Honeycutt
Ms. Letetia Daniels Jackson
Ms. Carol Jenkins
Ms. Stephanie Jones
Ms. Illai Kenny
Ms. Nicole Lee
Mrs. Evelyn G. Lowery
Dr. Julianne Malveaux
Dr. Donna McDaniel
Ms. Michelle Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Judith C. Moore
Ms. Constance Newman
Ms. Barbara Perkins
Ms. Ruby Pulliam
Ms. Sheryl Lee Ralph
Dr. Delisa Saunders
Ms. Carlottia Scott
Dr. Elsie Scott
Dr. Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich
Ms. Lottie Shackleford
Ms. Cynthia Swann
Ms. Susan L. Taylor
Ms. Makani Themba-Nixon
Ms. Adrianne Todman
Ms. Kathi Wilkes
Dr. E. Faye Williams
Ms. Robin Williams
Ms. Vanessa Williams
Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner
Chloe Williams
Dr. Alana Hackshaw
Dr. Janet B. Reid

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
Black Women's Roundtable
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Suite #700
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 659-4929 www.ncbcp.org

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