Black Women and Girls Now Have a Voice in Congress

By Kenrya Rankin Mar 23, 2016

Count it as a Women’s History Month win: Three congresswomen just launched the first federal political caucus “devoted to public policy that eliminates the significant barriers and disparities experienced by Black women.”

Yesterday (March 22), Congresswomen Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) announced the formation of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls. There are currently 430+ Congressional Member Organizations, but this is the first one to tackle issues that directly impact this group.

“From barriers in education, to a gender based pay gap that widens with race, to disparities in both diagnoses and outcomes for many diseases, our society forces Black women to clear many hurdles faced by no other group, and asks them to do it with little assistance,” Rep. Watson Coleman said in a press release. “Black women deserve a voice in a policy making process that frequently minimizes, or altogether ignores the systemic challenges they face. This caucus will speak up for them.”

The representatives were inspired by the #SheWoke Committee, a collective of Black women who created a petition calling for Congress to address the inequities that disrupt the lives of Black women and girls. The members are: Sharon Cooper (advocate, sister of Sandra Bland), Tiffany D. Hightower (organizer), Shambulia Gadsden Sams (activist), Ifeoma Ike (co-creator of, Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever (founder of the Exceptional Leadership Institute for Women), Nakisha M. Lewis (philanthropic strategist) and Sharisse Stancil-Ashford (artist).

“We lift up all the Black women and girls who have lost their lives without press coverage, all the Black women and girls who are fighting for our collective liberation, and the chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, who responded in the way all elected officials should: with urgency,” Cooper said in the press release.