Seen and Not Heard

founders.jpgBy Glynda C. Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen,
Co-Founders of Higher Heights
 

During President Obama’s keynote speech at the Congressional Black Caucus' 2015 Phoenix Awards, he acknowledged the centrality of Black women in mobilizing and advancing change across America. He also identified the proverbial elephant in the room: Black women’s invisibility in movement building. President Obama declared, “Black women have been a part of every great movement in American history. Even if they weren’t always given a voice.”

According to a new study, the U.S. political system ignores Black women’s voices in political decisions more than any other group.   We think you would agree that this is not fair or just. 

This image of Black women as “seen and not heard” is contrary to the democratic ideals that embody our nation’s image.  At Higher Heights, we are working to weaken the political infrastructure that allows Black women to make up only 3.4% of Congress and 0.6% of statewide elected office despite being 8.1% of the Black electorate. Not only is this unacceptable, but the status quo cannot continue.  We know that Black women’s voices, votes and leadership matter.

On Tuesday, October 27, 2015, we are convening a powerful evening titled #BlackWomenLead: A National Night of Sister to Sister Salon Conversations. These salon conversations are gatherings in which Black women come together and share their views, concerns, and opinions about their political power and leadership potential. Sisters also brainstorm solutions to the disparity that defines Black women’s political participation. Our goal is to hold 50 conversations across the country in one night in order to raise the voices of hundreds of Black women.

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Over the last election cycle, we have witnessed the progress that could be made when Black women pursue elected office and show up at the polls. However, the work is far from over as we look towards the 2016 elections.

Wilna Destin, housekeeping organizer with UNITE HERE Local 737 in Orlando, FL, said it best when interviewed about her participation in the Institute for Policy Studies’ And Still I Rise initiative: “Having a voice at work means having power. This is unity. When we unite we can do a lot of things.”

We couldn’t agree more. Click here for more information on how to host a salon in your community during our National Night of Sister to Sister Salon Conversations on October 27th.