Julianne MalveauxOp-EdOpinion

WILLIAMS: Women Are Stepping Up

We’re near the end of Women’s History Month! Every woman should be proud of who we are, about the number of women who serve as mayors of key cities, women who ran for and won congressional seats and the number of women who’re in the race for president of the U.S.

We always knew Sen. Elizabeth Warren would run for president. She already had her policies ready to go out front as soon as she announced. Sen. Kamala Harris announced shortly thereafter and raised an impressive amount of campaign funds. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was impressive as she announced with snowflakes falling all over her, seemingly unbothered by them! Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has made a lot of television appearances in recent weeks, and her campaign is in full swing. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced a while back, but hasn’t seemed to pick up steam yet.

With all of these impressive women candidates for president, I’m already hearing, “The country is not ready to elect a woman.” I cringe to hear that. Hillary Clinton came so close two years ago, but some people have lost the will.

Women can’t give up. Without knowing what white women will do to elect a woman in 2020, women of color are as ready as ever. So many aren’t only prepared to run for office, but I believe a majority of women of color are excited about the potential of a final positive vote for a woman to run the White House.

If you have a niece, daughter, sister, granddaughter or any young girl in your life, before this Women’s History Month is over, why not begin to teach her about the many great accomplishments Black women have had to perfect our union? What many Black women have accomplished didn’t just help Black women. What they did helped all women — all men and children, too — but too often Black women get no recognition. That’s why Women’s History Month is so necessary.

Just look at how long it took for us to hear about the very important work of the women who helped to lead in the launch of John Glenn to go into and return successfully from space! Most of us knew nothing about Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, who were the brains of one of the greatest operations in history. The brilliant Black women recently had their incredible story told in the movie “Hidden Figures.” We never had the privilege of reading about them in our history books. Yet, we read of many things about men — mostly white men — that aren’t nearly as important.

We must take the responsibility of telling our young people about women such as the great Fannie Lou Hamer, Amelia Boynton Robinson, Ella Baker, Diane Nash and all the women who played such important roles in the civil rights movement.

Our young people need to know the stories of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Irene Morgan, Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks and the important role they played in gaining rights for women and for Black people. We can’t separate being a woman from being Black. Our feminism is different from that of white women. We can’t vote against our best interest as some of our white sisters do and still be OK. We must weigh every vote before we cast it because our ancestors risked death to gain the right for us to vote.

The big divide was seen in the 2016 presidential election, which prevented all women and girls from finally saying we elected a woman to the highest office in the land. Black and Latina women did our part. White women need to step up, because us women of color are certainly doing our part.

Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.

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