More than 300 black women from 10 states recently traveled to the nation's capital to urge congressional representatives to pass policies and programs that empower black and underserved families – particularly single mothers and the working-poor.
Among issues addressed by the women, who had the opportunity to visit the offices of their congressional leaders, were public education, gun violence.
"We must make sure that our faces are a part of the debate and dialogue," Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) said. "We are known for doing what we have to do to keep it moving. Women -owned businesses are creating jobs. They train and employ those who have been shunned by society."lence and the creation of jobs with livable wages.
The women also met with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and others, as part of the second annual Black Women's Roundtable Women of Power Summit.
Summit speakers included Dr. Gail Christopher, W. K. Kellogg Foundation; Elizabeth Powell, American Postal Workers Union; Dr. Lorretta Johnson, American Federation of Teachers; Becky Pringle, National Education Association; Judith Browne-Dianis, Advancement Project; Diane Babineaux, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers; Dr. Judith Moore, Sisters Saving Ourselves Now; Rev. Marcia Dyson, Women's Global Initiative, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist; Felicia Davis, UNCF Building Green Initiative; Lori George Billingsley, Coca-Cola Refreshments; and Clayola Brown, A. Philip Randolph Institute.
The meetings with leaders were followed by a congressional briefing featuring Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY).
"We must make sure that our faces are a part of the debate and dialogue," Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) said. "We are known for doing what we have to do to keep it moving. Women owned businesses are creating jobs. They train and employ those who have been shunned by society."
Rep. Moore applauded President Barack Obama's signing of an expanded Violence Against Women Act. "Violence against women is a pandemic disease," said Moore. "As Vice President Joe Biden would say, 'this is a big deal.'"
Melanie L. Campbell, convener of Black Women's Roundtable, addressed the purpose of visits.
"As my mentor, Dr. Dorothy I. Height often said, black women get the job done. We see the problems tearing at the fabric of our community every day so we knew that we needed to kick off our conference up here on Capitol Hill to let our legislators know that we have an agenda and we intend to make sure our voices are heard."
Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, added that, "I'm looking in the audience at women of power who turned out thousands of people to the polls."
Meanwhile,mMany of the Summit participants have played significant roles registering and mobilizing more than one million voters in national and local elections since the Unity Voter Empowerment Campaign started more than a decade ago.
"Our folks in Alabama can't afford to make a mud pie," said Shelia Tyson, convener of Alabama Black Women's Roundtable. "We came here on a song and a prayer to let these lawmakers know that our people are hurting. They're loosing jobs and homes. We've got hospitals closing. We can't keep watching dissention and lengthy filibusters in DC. Black families need help now or we need to elect new leaders."