“Anyone can win if you vote for them. Black women are voting and running for office, this is the year of the black woman.”
That was one of the sentiments that TV host Joy-Ann Reid firmly expressed while hosting the Black Woman’s Roundtable Wednesday afternoon at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on the first day of the Congressional Black Caucus’ 48th annual conference.
In partnership with ESSENCE, as well as the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, the public policy forum series, titled the “Power of Black Women,” gave off a palpable energy as people gathered to listen to Black women. Something we’ve been telling y’all to do since day one…and not only listen to Black women, but to learn what issues are most important to us.
During the forum, the results of the ESSENCE-backed survey, the Power of the Sister Vote, were revealed, and it pretty much told us what many of us already knew. That Black women are here, we are making important decisions, we are flipping states, and you don’t have to want our vote, because you need it.
What the survey revealed is that Black women are activists, who continue to change the world in large part through that activism. And this year, not only are we ready to vote (with some 96 percent of more than 500 of respondents based off of ESSENCE readers noting that they are ready to vote today), we are taking up the decision-making ourselves making a bid to run for office.
“Black women are really the decision makers. We are the deciders of the political futures of this nation,” Avis Jones-Deweever, founder of the Exceptional Women’s Leadership Institute, who spearheaded the study for BWR, noted. “Black women have changed the world and we continue to do so and we do so in large part through our activism. We see that Black women are still very active in their communities. Especially young Black women are increasing their activism.”
And, according to Elsie Scott, Founding Director at the Ronald W. Walters Center at Howard University, black women are starting to put their money where their mouth is at, and proving that you have to earn their vote, instead of taking it for granted (we’re talking about you, Democratic party.)
“Women are beginning to put more money into campaigns. We get black women starting PACS because we recognize women cannot win unless we put some money behind them. They need money to run these campaigns,” Scott noted. “Black women are fighting for the soul of the Democratic Party but they are saying if you want us to stay in the party you need to support us, you need to support our candidates and be concerned about the issues that we are concerned about,” she added.
The next step? To hold those around us accountable for their votes and their actions and to make sure that everyone around us, especially our sisters and brothers of colors are registered to vote and do exercise that power.
“We’ve got to learn how to ask for help from one another. That’s our vote. That’s the 7.1 million African Americans today who are unregistered to vote,” Barbara Williams-Skinner, the Co-chair of the National African American Clergy Network, stressed. “That’s on our watch. Black women are so persuasive, people do what we want them to do. We have to get up and take our families.“
And the truth of the matter still remains true. If you want something done right, sometimes you gotta tear down a system and redo it yourself.
Perhaps Rev. Judith Moore, the executive director of the Pittsburgh/Mon Valley’s BWR put it best
“We’re not waiting to be invited to anyone’s table,” she insisted. “We are creating our own table. We are not depending on anyone to save us. We’ll save ourselves.”
The message is clear. Either you respect us and our vote, or we’ll vote for someone who does. Better yet, we’ll become the candidate ourselves.
Because this year is the year of Black women.