by Diane I. Daniels, For New Pittsburgh Courier
Flashback to 1970, when the Temptations had a hit song called, “Ball of Confusion, That’s What the World is Today.”
Fifty years later that phrase still holds true. Addressing confusion and issues affecting Black women and girls, The Black Women’s Roundtable, the women and girls empowerment and power-building arm of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, recently released its seventh Annual BWR Report entitled, “Black Women in the U. S., 2020: The Power of Black Women’s Leadership to Move a Justice Agenda Forward in the 2020 Decade.”
Their Ninth Annual BWR Women of Power National Summit also took place March 4-8, in Arlington, Va., addressing issues affecting Black women and girls. Hundreds of women representing educational and religious institutions, advocacy groups and the political arena attended the summit.
Concerned about Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race report conducted by the City of Pittsburgh’s Gender Equity Commission, Rev. Dr. Judith C. Moore said it was important for women from Pittsburgh to attend the summit.
“The spotlight has been cast on the dire circumstances that Black women in Pittsburgh face daily. The results of the report indicate that Pittsburgh is the ‘most unlivable city’ for Black women, particularly in the areas of health, employment, poverty, and education. These areas were addressed during the summit as well as in the BWR Report,” said Moore, the head of the Pittsburgh-Mon Valley Black Women’s Roundtable and Sisters Saving Ourselves Now.
The Public Policy Education and Action Day on Capitol Hill, a popular component of the summit, was helpful to Tina Ford, a first-time participant. “Meeting with Congressman (Mike) Doyle provided the opportunity to express my concern about family medical leave for grieving mothers of children who have been murdered.”
Last year she lost her 23-year-old son, Armani, to gun violence in Clairton. She and the Pittsburgh contingent also discussed affordable housing, proposed federal budget cuts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, access to technology for young people and equal access to employment opportunities in construction jobs throughout Allegheny County. Moore said the conversation opened the door for the groups represented at the table to begin planning actionable steps and continuous conversations with the Congressman. Even though the group’s March 28 Pittsburgh-Mon Valley Black Women’s Roundtable Solutions Forum has been put on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, Moore said Doyle’s meeting has energized the women. “Our first annual Forum was designed to galvanize Black women leaders from the region to collectively address challenges and develop a published report with actionable steps.”
Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the NCBCP and Convener of the BWR along with Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, president of Incite Unlimited, LLC, and major contributor of the BWR reports, are scheduled participants.
In addition to the knowledge and resources gained at the summit, Moore is delighted that the PMBWR is one of six BWR affiliates slated to participate in the Coca-Cola 5by20 Take It to the TOP Entrepreneurship National Challenge that was launched during the summit. The entrepreneurship challenge focuses on investing in Black women and girls entrepreneurship, social innovation and business leadership skills. It helps connect top participants to resources and mentorships to launch, grow, and or sustain successful minority women-owned businesses. “The five-day summit was an awesome experience,” said Moore. “Returning home with the opportunity to offer a Shark Tank-style entrepreneurial program to women and girls in this region is great. Even though we were looking forward to announcing it during our own summit, we look forward kicking it off within the next few weeks.”
The PMBWR is comprised of passionate Black women leaders working to develop strategies and solutions to address the challenges in the Mon Valley and Pittsburgh. “We advocate for marginalized Black women and girls by focusing on grassroots efforts on public policy, economic stability and social justice work,” Moore explained.
The 2020 BWR Report, as it has for the past seven years, provides an in-depth assessment of the challenges Black women face, as well as the triumphs. “The report is focused on lifting up the issues and policy priorities impacting Black women, our families and communities and highlights the power of Black women’s leadership and political power that gives a real-time view of how Black women are key to victory for any progressive candidate that needs the Black vote to win on a national, state or local level,” stated Campbell.
Topics covered in the report all addressing Black women and girls included: the impact of racism and hate crimes within communities; building economic power—economic justice, equity and opportunity; stopping violence against Black women, girls, and communities; criminal justice—policing and gun reform; education—educational opportunity, equity and access; reducing health disparities—health, gender and reproductive justice, equity and opportunity; saving our democracy from peril—voting rights, cybersecurity and racial bias; global power—foreign policy and international affairs, the power of the Black Vote in 2020 and Black women owning their power in the 2020 Presidential Election Cycle.
A copy of the Black Women in the U. S., 2020: The Power of Black Women’s Leadership to Move a Justice Agenda Forward in the 2020 Decade report can be downloaded from the following link: bit.ly/BWR2020Report.
Additional highlights of the 2020 BWR Women of Power National Summit included plenary, organizing and training sessions, special girls tracks and a Power of the Sister Vote Town Hall Meeting, an “It’s All About You” health, healing and inspiration day mini-expo, enrichment and self-care sessions, a Black Women Authors Luncheon plenary session and a siSTAR Power Awards Reception. During the reception, Fawn Walker Montgomery, co-founder of Take Action Mon Valley was awarded the siSTAR Leadership Award. The Summit ended with a Faith in Action Prayer Breakfast and a Global Empowerment Closing Brunch.
(ABOUT THE TOP PHOTO: TINA FORD, left, a Clairton resident and member of Mothers of Murdered Sons, speaks with Congressman Mike Doyle and Pittsburgh resident Ginger Underwood, second from left. – Photo by Diane I. Daniels)