#BlackWomenLead Colorado

McBoatPhotography_BlackWomenLeadRev-1.jpg
Photos by McBoat Photography

On September 30, 2016 Black women from across the state of Colorado gathered in Denver to discuss the power and potential of their political leadership within the state and nationally.  This timely and critical conversation was convened by State Representative Angela Williams in collaboration with Higher Heights, a national organization whose mission is to build Black women’s collective political power from the voting booth to elected office. Over 100 women from all corners of the state and sectors of leadership brought their wealth of experience to discuss the challenges and opportunities for Black women’s political leadership and what can be done individually and collectively to make sure #BlackWomenLead at the voting booth and beyond. Here is a snapshot of what they said:

What are the challenges/ barriers that exist for Black women to run for public office?

  • Lack of networking knowledge/broaden network
  • Institutionalized racism and sexism
  • Public scrutiny
  • Money/funding
  • Old boys club mentality
  • Double standards
  • Image labeled as “Angry Black Woman”
  • Family/work obligations

 

What are the opportunities for Black women to run for public office?

  • Join your local party
  • Positions in local government
  • Show up at city council meetings, HOA meetings.
  • Opportunity to involve the community

 

Participants picked one challenge or opportunity to discuss why it is important.

  • We seem to have challenges supporting our own communities. With the massive purchasing power we have, we should see more of our businesses thrive.
  • Lack of institutional support within our own network; we do not get support.
  • We need institutional support to win and build our infrastructure
  • Because our boys are dying and we are literally fighting for their lives

 

What factors or forces drive it?

  • Racism (personalized, institutional, systematic)
  • Sexism
  • Economics

What steps could strengthen it (if an opportunity) or weaken it (if a challenge)?

  • Start early to teach problem-solving; coping skills and resiliency (build on history, politics, and confidence
  • Increase knowledge/education to build capacity to lead
  • Formal mentorship programs throughout the life course
  • Teaching community members how to sustain and then impact laws.

 

What can Black women do collectively to make 2016 the year #BLACKWOMENRUN #BLACKWOMENVOTE #BLACKWOMENLEAD?

  • To strengthen opportunities, we can: turn off the television; get healthy socially, mentally, physically, and spiritually
  • Encourage one another
  • Mentor
  • Invest in ourselves and others
  • Celebrate each other
  • When one wins, we all win!

 

What is the one thing you can do to make 2016 the year #BLACKWOMENRUN #BLACKWOMENVOTE #BLACKWOMENLEAD?

  • Encouraging the youth, so they have a better understanding
  • Sharing knowledge and passion with friends and other Black women.
  • Be present! Vote
  • Use your energy to move the needle
  • Action instead of talking
 

Overall, the women gathered left feeling inspired and affirmed to move forward with plans and actions to enhance and build a pipeline to support Black women’s political leadership and influence in the state of Colorado. 

“This has always been about building a collective voice of African American women in the state of Colorado. Ultimately, we always show up as the most active and reliable voting bloc in any election.  Our community needs to hear our voice, our state needs to hear our voice and our nation will definitely be all the better for it,” Rep. Williams told the guests.

"Higher Heights was pleased to partner with Rep. Williams in this endeavor, especially as we gather Black women across the country in homes, churches, schools, and hair salons to have a conversation about flexing our collective power for change in our communities and nationwide," said Glynda C. Carr, Higher Heights co-founder and facilitator for the evening’s conversation.  "This is really about harnessing the power of Black women to ensure we have a seat at political and economic decision making tables.”

To harness the energy that the gathering has sparked, Higher Heights and Rep. Williams will be surveying participants on ways to they would like to move the conversation to action in the weeks and months to come. 

 

About Angela Williams

Angela Williams is the current Representative to the Colorado General Assembly’s House District 7. She was recently elected to the Colorado State Senate. Before pursuing a life in public service Williams was the Principal owner of the Angela Williams Allstate Insurance Agency for 14 years. She is now the Principal of AW Consulting Inc. Elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2010 as a Democrat, Williams represents a dynamic and diverse community which comprises the Northeast Denver neighborhoods of North Park Hill, Stapleton, Green Valley Ranch and Montbello. House District 7 includes the world class Denver International Airport.

 

About Higher Heights

Higher Heights is the only national organization exclusively dedicated to harnessing, organizing and mobilizing Black women’s political power making sure they have the tools to effectively engage, advocate and lead. Higher Heights for America, a national 501(c)(4) organization, and its sister organization Higher Heights Leadership Fund, a 501(c)(3), is building the political power and leadership of Black women from the voting booth to elected office. For more information visit www.HigherHeightsforAmerica.org.