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Apr 19, 2014

The Message from Black Women is Simple: Want Our Vote? Address Our Issues!



Washington, DC – After visiting their Congressional representatives offices on Capitol Hill and attending a briefing with two congresswomen and key members of President Obama’s Administration, participants in the recent Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) Women of Power Summit came together for a day packed with intensive strategy sessions where the women developed a plan for the midterm elections and outlined a list of action-items that every attendee could perform when they return home.

“Black women out-voted every other demographic and we are determined to leverage that vote. When we put in as much as Black women do, we must demand something back,” said Melanie L. Campbell, convener of Black Women’s Roundtable, an intergenerational women’s policy network of National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP).

“We will not continue to vote then turn out our families and community, then come up short when it comes to our issues.” Campbell continues, “Black Women’s Roundtable produced a report outlining the progress, challenges and critical issues facing Black women and we plan to support policy makers who address those issues.”


Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (9th District-NY), Congresswoman Donna Edwards (4th District-MD), FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Latifa Lyles, U. S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, Heather Foster & Hallie Schneir, The White House Office of Public Engagement, were among speakers who briefed over 200 women and girls from ten states on priority issues like health care, jobs with livable wages, voting rights, pay equity and violence on the streets.

“This summit enabled us to prepare for action,” Pierette “Petty” Talley, Ohio Unity Coalition adds. We identified places where we have political strength and where Black women are the deciding vote, and we are targeting those areas to mobilize for the mid-term elections.”

In addition to creating a game plan to maximize the power of black women in the midterm elections, for every issue discussed in the strategy sessions, the women were charged with identifying simple actions that state conveners and other attendees can EXECUTE when they leave. For example, the deadline for signing up for health care was two days after the summit so Dr. L. Toni Lewis of SEIU Healthcare urged each participant to call ten people to tell them to sign up for health coverage over the weekend. Salandra Benton, convener of Florida Black Women’s Roundtable, focused in on the Stand Your Ground Laws. “All of our state conveners must research Stand Your Ground laws in your state so BWR can compile a list of representatives we need to meet to share our concerns.”

“In addition to fighting the Stand Your Ground Laws, we need all of you to call your state representatives to weigh in on Gun Control,” added Lucia McBath, the mother of murdered teen, Jordan Davis.

Other action items included simple tasks like finding ways on the local level to let students know that if they work for a non-profit or the government for ten years they can get student loan forgiveness, or researching the number of contracts being awarded to Black women by each government agency.

The summit theme was “Investing in Our Communities, Invest in Ourselves.” So the morning was dedicated to self-improvement sessions while the afternoon was dedicated to community empowerment strategy sessions. The women and girls were treated to motivating words from luncheon speaker Susan L. Taylor, National Cares Mentoring Movement, and closing speakers Dee Marshall, Raising the Bar LLC, and MeShelle the Indie-Mom of Comedy.

BWR stays at the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women and girls and promotes health and wellness, economic security, education and global empowerment as key elements for success. Sponsors of the 2014 BWR Summit include Verizon Foundation, The Moriah Fund, The Coca-Cola Company, Ford Foundation, American Federation of Government Employees and American Postal Workers Union, among others. ###

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