Eight of the Democratic Presidential hopefuls descend on Houston last week for the “She The People Presidential Forum”–the first Presidential Forum dedicated solely to issues that affect women of color. Nearly 2,000 women attended the “for us, by us” event that tackled issues such as — racial, economic, gender, and social justice.

Immediately following the forum, Higher Heights, the only national organization dedicated to harnessing, organizing and mobilizing Black women’s political power teamed up with Essence — hosted #BlackWomenLead Cocktails and Conversation event that served as a talkback conversation about Black women’s issues and concerns to ensure they were clearly voiced and ranked as top priorities by candidates who seek their votes and support.

The crowd of nearly 200 had an open dialogue at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum to listen to a diverse panel of local and national Black women leaders. Panelists included: Higher Heights co-founder, Glynda C. Carr; Rev Leah Daughtry, Higher Heights founding circle member and  former chair of the Democratic National Committee; Dr. Carla Brailey, Assistant Professor at Texas Southern University in the Department of. Sociology and Vice Chair of Texas Democrats;  Deon Haywood, Executive Director of Women With A Vision; as well as,  Amber Goodwin, founding Director of the Community Justice Action Fund and Community Justice Reform Coalition.

The panel discussed  their thoughts on the forum and how Black women can stay engaged in the political process headed into 2020.

“Today’s forum and post-event conversation was important for Black women. The Road to 2020 is powered by Black Women and we are demanding our return on our voting investment in the form of policies that center our issues and concerns,” said Carr. “This space allowed us to voice our concerns about this country and understand that we were heard. We will be monitoring this race closely. “

Rev. Daughtry opened up the She The People forum with a reminder that the issues that affect Black women voters in the U.S. are everybody’s issues and echoed those same sentiments at the post-event.

“Black women voters enter this presidential cycle fully aware of their political power and fully willing to use it to advance candidates who share their values and concerns.  We know that we are the engine that fueled electoral victories across this country, including bringing a change in leadership to the U.S. Congress,” said Daughtry, “The issues that are most pressing for Black women are access to quality healthcare, safe neighborhoods, an opportunity economy, a fair justice system, and a level playing field that ensures a chance for all of us – and our families and our communities – to succeed.”

Higher Heights newly elected Board chair, Carol McDonald, fired up the crowd as she declared the road to the White House is through Black women.

“Black women have an incredible opportunity to flex their political power like never before. The Democratic party’s nominee for President will be chosen by Black women voters. I am beyond thrilled to help lead Higher Heights for America at this pivotal moment and harness the political power of Black women.”

In the midst of spirited conversations, Presidential candidates Senator Cory Booker and Secretary Julian Castro stopped by to share a few words with Heights members.

Senator Booker addressed the crowd and said ,“Change doesn’t come from Washington, it comes TO Washington by people who demand it’.”

Higher Heights, co-founder Kimberly Peeler -Allen agrees fully.

“We know that Black women can be that change. As we move toward 2020, it is critical that Black women understand that our issues and concerns are clearly voiced and ranked as top priorities by candidates who seek our votes and support.,” said Peeler- Allen. “We plan to organize and mobilize Black women voters and to elect officials who will be fully accountable and responsive to a progressive agenda.”

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