Hazel Trice Edney, one of the leading women entrepreneurs in the Black Press realm, recently feted noted African American women who are making a difference in the lives of Blacks and don’t bite their tongues when it came to issues that Black people have to deal it.
Edney, the president and CEO of Trice Edney News Wire and Trice Edney Communications, held her annual “Stateswomen of Justice” luncheon to honor outstanding Black women on March 29 at the National Press Club in the District of Columbia. The luncheon had a packed room as African American women of accomplishment pondered on the theme: Breaking the Chains after 400 Years: Now Where? Direction, Leadership, Vision!”
“This is the 400th year of us being here,” Edney said in her opening remarks. “We as Black people have survived slavery, segregation, lynchings and other pains and we still suffer. Many of us have sons and when they leave the house, we hope they come back.”
Edney referred to the arrival of African slaves in 1619 at the English settlement of Jamestown in Virginia. Princess Asie K. Ocansey, a member of a royal family in Ghana, spoke about the departure of Africans from the continent to the Americas and implored her fellow members of the diaspora to go back to their ancestral roots.
“Don’t come to visit, come back home,” Ocansey said.
Julianne Malveaux, president emerita of Bennett College and NNPA columnist; Kim Saunders, president and CEO of the National Bankers Association; Janice Mathis, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women; Lezli Baskerville, president and CEO of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO); E. Faye Williams. national chair of the National Congress of Black Women; and Kristen Clarke, president/executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, served as panelists for the discussion while Kezia Williams, CEO of the Black Upstart, served as the moderator.
Malveaux gave the audience a lesson in economics, saying that America became great off the backs of Black women. She pointed out that in 1910, 110 Black banks operated but in 2019, there are only 22. She made a call for reparations for people of African descent who didn’t receive any type of compensation for slavery.
Malveaux supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, saying “it will lift Black women out of poverty.”
Baskerville said historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are the backbone of the Black community.
“HBCUs generate $15 billion for the Black community and created the Black middle class,” she said. “Black colleges offer information and inspiration.”
Baskerville encouraged the audience to ask their federal lawmakers to support Title III dollars for the national budget and request that HBCUs have access to Opportunity Zones, economically weak areas where businesses will get a tax incentive to set up.
“There are more HBCUs that exist outside of Opportunity Zones than in them,” Baskerville said.
Williams said Black women need to come together for commonality.
“We’ve got to get it together,” she said. “There is too much dissension because one sister doesn’t like another sister.”
Williams said Black women need to strongly support U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for denouncing President Trump’s policies and preferences for the Israeli government.
Mathis said “Black women magic has help run this country,” noting that 94 percent of African-American females voted for 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton while 53 percent of White women cast their ballot for Trump and 15 percent of Black men voted for Trump, also.
“There were some people who got confused in 2016, while Black women didn’t,” Mathis said.
Clarke noted the role her organization played in stopping the deportation of 4,000 Liberians and emboldened the women to remain politically active.
“Elections do have consequences,” Clarke said. “We are in the fight for our lives.”
Saunders repeated Malveaux’s statistics on Black banks but didn’t play the blame game.
“Blacks have $1 trillion [in spending power and assets] and we are down to 22 Black banks,” Saunders said. “Not one Black bank has a billion dollars [in its portfolio] and it’s not ‘The Man’s’ fault, it’s our own fault.
“We make loans to Black people and HBCUs,” Saunders said. “You should put something in a Black bank. No excuses.”
Upon the urging of Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes, all of the panelists agreed that the 2020 census and a fair count meant a great deal to Blacks in terms of political representation and resource allocation.