By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) was the keynote speaker as Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) held his 17th annual Women’s Equality Day Luncheon at the Hotel at the University of Maryland on Women’s Equality Day Luncheon in College Park.
In a county where the leadership is comprised of mostly African American women, Rep. Waters attracted a record number of attendees as nearly 1,000 people were on hand to commemorate the adoption of the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote in 1920. Waters used a portion of her remarks to celebrate the gains women have made, but chastised President Donald J. Trump and Congressional Republicans for looking to repeal or replace legislation and policies that may affect them and minorities.
“Some people tried to undermine us and minimize the women’s movement,” said Waters. “But the 2016 election, again, it changed all of that. Enraged by the perpetrator and sickened by the president, women mobilized.”
During her speech Rep. Waters also remained vigilant regarding the impeachment of President Trump. She referred to the Commander in Chief as “despicable, racist White supremacist,” and a “misogynist” which led to chants of “Impeach 45!”
“We’re still rising,” she said. “We rise despite the despicable, racist White supremacist, misogynist man occupying our White House.”
Waters used references to the women’s suffrage movement dating back to 1648 when Margaret Brent, a landowner in colonial Maryland, demanded a vote in the provincial assembly. She also cited examples of how female leaders from Harriet Tubman to Coretta Scott King, and her own work in the 20th century helped lead to the gains that women have benefitted from as a cause for civil rights that continues today.
“We know how to use (the gavel) and not only are we not afraid to use it, sometimes we’re going to bang it just because we feel good and we got it and we know how to do it,” Waters said.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy was the emcee for the event. As she opened the gathering, the second African American woman to hold her position in the County sought to empower women by working as “iron” in a challenging political environment, and against a presidential administration that is trying to separate them.
“We are iron,” said Braveboy. “We are sharper together.”
Despite attacks on their character, citizenship, and credibility by President Trump, Rep. Hoyer called 2019 “another year of the woman.” Prince George’s has become the personification of how women have ascended to leadership roles in business and politics.
“It’s never too late to do the (right) thing,” said Hoyer, “but it’s a damn shame it took so long.”
Maryland State Delegate Kathleen Dumais (D-15th District), also spoke at the event and delivered a call to action. While acknowledging the gains, women have made – especially in Maryland – she urged them to remain focused on true gender equality. Women comprise 25 percent of legislators in the U.S. and less than 20 percent of business executives. Only nine states are led by female governors.
“We have work to do,” said Dumais. “We can, and will, do better.”