NOW's Political Action Committees and Capitol City NOW kicked-off the Women of Color and Allies Summit by honoring women of color in U.S. Congress. Pictured, left to right: NOW Executive Vice President Kim Gandy; Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Fla; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas; Karen Johnson, Vice President Membership; Elizabeth Toledo, Vice President Action; and Patricia Ireland, President.
Accepting awards on behalf of their sisters were Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, Carrie Meek, D-Fla., and Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. Rep. Meek spoke about how much NOW's support means to her, and Rep. Jackson Lee stressed that during these days of right-wing political attacks it is more important than ever for NOW to keep up our work. The event was coordinated by Capital City NOW and enthusiastically embraced by local NOW activists and political supporters. The theme of the Summit, Linking Arms in Dangerous Times, was underscored in the need for more women of color and allies in Congress. "What better way to support our honorees than to raise money to help send them reinforcements?" Ireland asked.
It is undebatable that women of color in Congress are strongly supportive of feminist political goals. There are currently 15 women of color in the House and one Senator, Carol Moseley-Braun, D-Ill. On votes essential to women's equality — welfare reform, repeal of the Hyde Amendment and international family planning — all voted on the side of women's rights. On the crucial vote of whether to ban an abortion procedure with no exception for women's health, only one woman of color voted against reproductive rights.
To ensure that more political allies will be voting for women's rights in the future, NOW has launched the Victory 2000 campaign. Through Victory 2000, the NOW PACs are committed to electing 2,000 women's rights candidates across the country by the year 2000. This important work continued with a sister fundraiser on the West coast. NOW/PAC saluted the historic candidacies of three open lesbians running for Congress at its annual Party with a Purpose in Palm Springs, Calif. Wisconsin state Rep. Tammy Baldwin, San Diego City Councilmember Chris Kehoe, and retired Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer of Washington state were honored as 1998 Women of Power Award Winners on March 27. Lesbian comic Suzanne Westenhoefer starred for the third time in our annual comedy show.
Proceeds from both receptions not only help elect feminist candidates to all levels of political office, but also enable NOW to develop political training programs for candidates and activists throughout the country. To contribute to the Victory 2000 campaign, donate online to the PAC.