By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]
When Black women come together, powerful shifts happen. The power of Black Girl Magic has been proven from stories told in “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics,” “Hidden Figures” and now from the testimonies of those who participated in the 7th annual “Black Women’s Roundtable Women of Power National Summit: Time for a Power Shift!!!” held by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
“We’re going to have a roundtable conversation about the role, of not only Black women turning out-because we always turn out. But the role that Black women played in creating what many are talking about as a “Blue Wave” in the nation,” said Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) and national convener for the Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR).
The event was held at the NCBCP offices in Northwest, Washington, D.C.
For over two hours Black women from around the nation shared their experiences in mobilizing the African American community in their respective states. Many of the women shared stories about holding rallies, using social media marketing, sponsoring events and transporting people to the polls in order to ensure they voted.
“We did canvassing, we did distribution literature, we did voter education, we did advertisement. Our youth went with us. We shared with the community we served that their vote mattered and their vote counts. Posters, literature, we even camped out at a 5K race… We handed out fliers and t-shirts, yelling out, ‘Don’t forget to vote… We were everywhere,” said the Rev. Dr. Judith Moore, convener for the Pittsburgh/ Mon Valley Unity Coalition sector of BWR.
The Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams Skinner shared how she worked to mobilize clergy in order to educate communities about voting in the midterm elections.
“We all knew starting this election that it was about 2020 and that voter suppression was going to be an issue… It was blatant, it was bold, it was vicious,” Skinner said.
In order to combat the voter suppression she said that her work primarily focused on clergy and parishioners knowing their voting rights, ultimately engaging 916 churches. In addition clergy and churches worked to hold events such as prayer breakfasts and used vans to take people to vote. “We had almost 90,000 people transported to the polls on Election Day,” Skinner said.
“The expansion of this electorate was really rooted in the turnout of Black voters,” Brown said. “I think it’s very clear, we’ve demonstrated that Black Voters Matter.
“We make the difference when it comes to propelling progressive candidates. We make the difference when it comes to changing the political landscape,” Brown added.
The Black Voters Matter co-founder explained that leaders must focus voter and electorate protection leading to the 2020 election cycle. “We’re seeing an offset by people who want to restrict democracy,” she said.
The Black women leaders also shared frustrating stories about voter suppression and unfortunate tales about voter illiteracy that prevented people from going to the polls.
In working with childcare centers, Cassandra Welchlin of Making Mississippi Women Secure learned a lot.
“We partnered really closely with childcare centers and one of the things we learned is we really need to do voter registration,” Welchlin said.
She also explained mothers did not know that by law they could ask their employer’s to take off in order to vote. Some mothers learned their identifications expired once arriving to the polls, thus unable to vote. She said leaders must ensure voters are prepared before they go to vote on Election Day.
Moore emphasized that the grind BWR and other leaders have put in have to mobilize voters is working and that they’ll endure the efforts leading up to the 2020 election.
“We’ll continue what we’ve been doing. And we will take a stand for Black women political power. And we’re excited because we have political power. We’re holding elected officials accountable to address some of the issues that afflict Black women,” Moore said.
“I’m excited to say that [Black women leaders and politicians] are saying, ‘It’s not enough to be invited to the table, it’s time to create their own table,” the Pittsburgh/ Mon Valley convener added.
“It does not matter whether they try to suppress our vote or not. We will have ways in which we can address those issues and we’ll continue to thrive because we know that Black women makes a difference.”