Higher Heights for America hosted their inaugural dialogue, “Taking Our Seat at the Table,” during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2011 ALC weekend. Occurring on September 24th, the convening gathered women from both the public and private sectors to discuss harnessing the collective power of Black women to shape the political debate on issues impacting them and their families.
More specifically, the dialogue focused on best practice strategies for developing and supporting a leadership pipeline for Black women to proactively use their power to influence and impact public policy and elections.
Research reveals that Black women are disproportionately affected in every social indicator. For example, they have the highest incidence of breast cancer, heart disease and HIV\AIDS. According to the National Women’s Law Center, Black women lost more jobs than their male counterparts since the recession began in 2007.
“It is clear that a viable resolution is needed to effectively address these persisting inequalities. This includes the development and championing of just and equitable policies that lift up the issues that most impact Black women and the quality of their communities”, said C. Virginia Fields, President and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on Aids.
In 2008, a record number of Black women voted and demonstrated that they could impact and influence the electoral process. With just 14 months until the 2012 elections, Black women across the country have a unique opportunity to galvanize this same energy once more to ensure that their voices are included in the broader political debate.
“There is power in our numbers," said Higher Heights for America Co-Founder, Glynda Carr. “Black women represent over 60% of the Black electorate and make the majority of the economic and political decisions in their households. We must galvanize that power and engage in a long-term strategy to build not only an educated and engaged electorate, but one that participates beyond Election Day”.
Over the next 18 months, Higher Heights for America seeks to strengthen Black women’s civic participation in grassroots advocacy campaigns and the electoral process, thus creating an environment in which more Black women (and other candidates who are committed to advancing policies that affect this population) can be elected to public office.
“In 1968, former Congress Member Shirley Chisholm made the first crack in the glass ceiling and made a pathway for women like me, when she became the first Black woman elected to Congress”, said Congresswomen Yvette D. Clarke (D, NY-14). “When she declared her candidacy for presidency in 1972, she inspired the possibilities that exist for Black women to take on political leadership roles. Almost 40 years later, there is still a large leadership gap that exists. In the spirit of Shirley Chisholm, we must take our seat at the table and demand that our issues – and the issues of our families and community – are addressed”.
Higher Heights for America will host a series of conversations across the country and organize and train Black women, regardless of their socio-economic circumstances, to be change agents in their community.
"Every Black woman in America has a direct role in the policies that affect our every day lives," stated Kimberly Peeler-Allen, Co-Founder of Higher Heights for America. "The time is now for us to raise our collective voice so that decisions regarding reproductive health, the education and care of our children, equality in the workplace and economic empowerment are not swept under the table."