What is the New Face of Black Female Activism? CBWPA, Intersectionality and Women In Colorado Help Define
Google may be a household name for many and the go-to-place for information and research. But when you Google “Black Female Activist,” you will find many amazing Black female activist, mostly from the past, but little information on current Black female activists who are making a tremendous impact on our cities, our community and our country.
Defined as a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change, butwhenBlack female is preceded by the word activist, many names come to mind.
As a native Coloradoan, I will never forget the political geniuses I grew up admiring. Women like Sen. Gloria Tanner, who worked with my realtor grandfather, Jesse Jackson, who ran for city council under the Republication party in 1969. Or the Honorable Wilma J. Webb, who after 10 years ofpersistency, sponsored legislation that adopted Martin Luther’s King birthday as a Colorado state holiday, prior to becoming a national holiday.
Nor will I forget artist/activist Denver griot Opalanga Pugh, who was a keeper of the culture and a societal leader. Or Arie Taylor, who became the first African-American woman elected to the Colorado State House of Representatives, where she addressed a myriad of issues faced by women and the poor during her six terms in office. Tanner, Webb, Pugh, Taylor and many other Denverites stood tall as pillars of the Colorado political and activist community.
Each state has individual legends and activists to remember, but organizations like the Colorado Black Women for Political Action (CBWPA) gives rise to an open forum as well as a catalyst for helping groom new Black female activists affecting change across the country. As evidenced in the 2016 annual luncheon that featured Senator Nina Turner as the keynote speaker, CBWPA is a powerful Colorado nonprofit organization inspiring a diverse array of women to become activists and political game-changers.
This year’s luncheon, Courageous Women: A Call To Activism emboldens women to vote, advocate, become a member, run for office and support someone who is running. CBWPA will honor outstanding women in the community who are change agents and have had a significant impact on the community.
Connie Rule, executive director of Colorado Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs has been involved with CBWPA for five years, is serving as the fundraising chair and leads committee for the 39th annual Tribute to Black Women luncheon on Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Renaissance Hotel, 3801 Quebec Street in Denver.
“I was looking for a group of like-minded women and a credible source to learn advocacy skills,” Rule says explaining why she came to CBWPA. “The annual luncheon brings together hundreds of Black women and their allies. The convening is inspiring and empowering – exactly what we need for those who are veteran advocates and those who are just beginning to find their voice.”
Images of Angela Davis’ Afro and the Black Panthers come to mind when one thinks of Black female activism. She isn’t the only name though. Davis is joined by Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Bell Hooks, and Alice Walker. And let’s fast forward to names we are still defining – Ava Duvernay, Audre Lorde, Kimberle Crenshaw. And on the national political scene, Black female activists must include Rep. Maxine Waters, Sen.NinaTurner and many others.
So, how do we define the new faces of today’s Black female activism?
As the president of CBWPA, Halisi Vinson,executivedirector at Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center, has had a specific path and role that she feels the organization takes in the community. This year, the organization unveiled the CBWPA 2.0 strategy.
“It is imperative that CBWPA remain relevant,” Vinson says. “Not only have we increased the number of social events that gives our members exposure to candidates and elected officials, we have launched new educational series like civics 101, citizen’s lobbyist training, and messaging training. On the day we launched our anti-racism series, citizens in the great state of Virginia were subject to a terrorist attack by white supremacists. This tragic event makes it clear that we have a lot of work to do and CBWPA is stepping up to the challenge.”
Black female activism has evolved into something much greater than what it was deemed in the 1960’s as our society has evolved at the hand of technology. Why has Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites become so significant over the last eight years? It has helped unite Black women across the country, who are motivated, to empower the voice and advocacy of community engagement. Social media have helped create new faces of Black female activists who can unite, mobilize, and advocate without being limited to the traditional protests in the streets.
So, who are these new Black female activists? A clear example of this mobilization was in 2012 with the creation of Black Lives Matter by three Black women activists, Alicia Garza, Opal-Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, who set out to create a national organization that had local chapters addressing the issues of disabled folks, undocumented Black people, and folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.
Encouraging community to include intersectionality as part of the new face of Black female activism is part of modern-day activism. “This isan historic, divine Black-feminine revolutionary moment that is being led boldly by Black female activists,” said Dr. Dawn Riley-Duval who is a long-time activist and BLM5280 co-founder, of the Denver Chapter of Black Lives Matter.
Black Female Activisim
“So, all of us represent the face of Black women activism. The divine, the universe, our ancestors are calling us all to be involved in creating positive change for ourselves, our beloveds and our communities.”
As mentioned by the League of Women Voters, “The most powerful group of voters will be African-American women. In both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, Black women voted at the highest rate of any racial, ethnic or gender group.”
The Huffington Post noted that 94 percent of Black women voted for Hillary Clinton. And although we don’t necessarily vote monolithically, these statistics and the rise of the number of Black female activist demonstrate the significance of the Black female voice.
It’s time we start to acknowledge some of our new leaders - even if Google hasn’t caught up.
CBWPA is cultivating new young Black female activists to help engage youth and young Black women on activism and the political process. Oliva Hunte provides Case Management for the youth in Colorado, and was first introduced to CBWPA at the 2016 annual Tribute to Black Women luncheon. When asked what the new face of Black female activism is, Hunte said, “It’s time we made acknowledgement of other Black individuals that exist and understand Black Trans individuals and intersectionality. Black women must, through intersectionality; look at how we navigate the world…there is no one way to be an activist.”
CBWPA is 40-years old and will present the 39th annual Tribute to Black Women luncheon in next month. Keynote speaker Tara Dowdell, is a highly accomplished marketing and communications strategist, and is the founder and president of TDG Speakers and Tara Dowdell Group. In addition to her consulting practice, Dowdell is a respected television commentator and speaker. She appears regularly on MSNBC and Fox 5 New York where she provides progressive insight and analysis on a range of political, government, and business topics. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government.
Dowdell’s accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. After being selected out of more than a million applicants, she competed for a job on the third season NBC’s hit show, “The Apprentice.” She has also been honored by the NAACP, the Political Action Committee, BALLOT, and the child advocacy nonprofit organization, Project Re-Direct. Aside from her work in government, Dowdell has a wealth of political experience. She has served in senior positions on several high profile federal, state and local campaigns. Additionally, Dowdell managed an issue-advocacy campaign for Emily’s List, one of the largest Political Action Committees in the nation.
So the next time you Google Black Female Activist, and if thejava developers or coding programmers who power the algorithms to the search engines have not updated the names and faces of Black female activism – and are completely lost on the definitions, let’s hope they wake up soon and get the coding right for the New Black Female Activist search.
Editor’s note: For more information including ticket and sponsorship information, email Connie Rule at Fundraisingchair@cbwpa.org or Portia Prescott at Luncheonprchair@cbwba.org or visit www.cbwpa.org. For more information on the Colorado Black Women for Political Action, future workshops and its mission or tickets to the luncheon, call 720-288-0119 or visit www.cbwpa.org.