WASHINGTON, D.C. – NOW co-founder the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray wrote in 1977: “If one could characterize in a single phrase the contribution of Black women to America, I think it would be ‘survival with dignity against incredible odds.’” Those incredible odds, namely sexism, and racism, stubbornly persist in the daily lives of women of color. That is why today, in honor of Black History Month, NOW is gathering Congressional leaders, local and national advocacy experts and renowned authors for the Racial Justice Summit and Congressional Briefing: Addressing the Intersects of Gender, Health, Economics, Violence, and Race.
“Women of color face disparities in our economic and health care systems, carried in the form of higher maternal mortality rates, a lack of access to reproductive care and lower quality health care,” said U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), sponsor of the Summit. “That’s why there’s no real feminism unless it’s inclusive of all our sisters. I am so proud to partner with this historic organization in elevating issues that marginalized communities experience.”
The goal of the Summit is to inform, educate and inspire constituents and Congressional staffers working on policy to do so using a racial justice/equity lens. The unique format incorporates how anyone from local organizers to federal officials can create movements, programs and legislation committed to intersectionality and racial inclusion. NOW is also honoring a key changemaker, U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), with the Award of Distinction for Intersectional Feminism.
“NOW is proud to honor Eleanor Holmes Norton with this well-deserved award,” said NOW President Toni Van Pelt. “From serving as the first woman chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to her feminist activism on sex discrimination and her vast body of legislative work, Congresswoman Holmes Norton has been a champion for women and girls in Washington, D.C. and across the country for decades.”
Additional speakers include U.S. Congresswomen Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). A full list of speakers is available here.
“When we establish ourselves as activists for human and civil rights, we make a commitment to defend all individuals that experience these injustices,” said NOW Vice President Christian F. Nunes. “We cannot prioritize suffering and therefore we need to understand the intersections of race, gender, and systems of oppression. As activists, we must commit to everyone’s liberation no matter how far we may be removed from the issue.”
Racial Justice Summit and Congressional Briefing
“Participating in this event allows me to add to the voices around racial justice and feminism. As a Black woman, mother, and activist, it is imperative that I be a part of this conversation as it shapes the discourse for future generations.” —Kenyette Tisha Barnes, Co-Founder of #MuteRKelly
“You may think your activism is intersectional, but it’s not. It won’t be until you include a group of women of color historically excluded from feminist and racial justice movements: disabled Black women. I am here because it’s time for us to have a seat at the table. We are valuable, and our input is important.” –Ola Ojewumi, Planned Parenthood Advocates for DC, Maryland & NoVa
“As we move towards the future, whatever it brings, we must be willing to draw upon lessons learned and fights won. The fight for gender equality has been a long and trying road whose destination has not yet been met. Our push today for social justice and meaningful change requires that we use the methods and determination fostered by those, particularly by women of color, who chose to speak out against oppression and social inequity. I am here today to share my insight and experiences as a leader in the Civil Rights community so that others might find a new ally in a struggle akin to their own.” –Ashley Allison, The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights
“As feminists, we want to build a world that is more inclusive and reflective of who we are. But if we don’t address the unique challenges that face women of color, then we aren’t building a future that is truly equitable. We cannot assume all women have the same shared experience. We must engage in conversations and active listening that recognize and address our differences. It’s only with a deeper understanding of those differences that we can build power for all women.” –Virginia Kase, League of Women Voters
“In order to strengthen our communities, we need to expand and support our community-based mental health and addiction treatment services to anyone in need because everyone deserves access to timely high-quality mental health and addiction care no matter where or when they need it.” —Reyna Taylor, National Council for Behavioral Health
“It is imperative in 2020 that every step is undertaken to fight any and every attempt, whether state, private or foreign, to deceive, discourage and block eligible voters from voting and having their ballots counted! NOW is committed to being a vital wedge in defeating the vicious voter suppression confronting our nation which targets women of color voters.” —Barbara Arnwine, Transformative Justice Coalition
“As my hero, Shirley Chisholm said: ‘In the end, anti-black, anti-female and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism.’ I welcome the opportunity to participate in this Racial Justice Summit where together we are raising our collective voices with the message that threatening the rights of one group is threatening the rights of us all.” —Marcia Johnson-Blanco, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law