BWA 42ND ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM
VOCAL, VISIBLE, AND VIGILANT: THE BLACK WOMEN’S AGENDA, INC. HOSTS 42ND ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM TOWN HALL & AWARDS LUNCHEON ENCOURAGING WOMEN TO MAKE THEIR PRESENCE FELT IN WASHINGTON & LOCAL COMMUNITIES
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friday, September 13, 2019 – Six months away from the first 2020 presidential primaries and caucuses, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. (BWA) hosted its 42nd Annual Symposium Town Hall and Awards Luncheon, encouraging the nearly 1,800 attendees to flex their political muscle and to help usher in the changes that they want to see in their communities and across the nation.
“A wise woman once said, ‘there is no power greater than a community that knows what it cares about,’” BWA President Gwainevere Catchings Hess said offering welcome remarks. “It’s up to us to make sure that the presidential candidates understand and align themselves with our positions on issues that impact Black women, our families, and the neighborhoods where we live.”
Joy-Ann Reid, host of MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” moderated the Town Hall, sharing the stage with a panel of journalists, political commentators, and other experts who encouraged participants to live their best lives by giving voice to the issues that are important to them and exacting promises for their support. The panelists included Keith Boykin, a CNN political commentator and New York Timesbest-selling author; Michelle Singletary, a nationally syndicated personal finance columnist for The Washington Post; Shermichael Singleton, political consultant, writer, commentator and contributing host of Vox Media’s “Consider It,” and Maya Wiley, senior vice president for social justice at the New School University and the Henry Cohen Professor of public and urban policy at the university’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Public Policy.
Following the 2018 midterm elections, Black women stand out as a demographic group with one of the largest voter turnouts.  In 2014, 2016 and 2018, more than 74% of Black women said they voted out of a sense of responsibility rather than to support a specific candidate or ballot measure.  Increasingly, however, Black women indicate that they are looking for a return on their voting investment.
The BWA Awards Luncheon was a celebration of Black women who were among the first to enter and distinguish themselves in their fields. Among this year’s honorees were: The Honorable Cheri Beasley, the first Black woman Chief Justice, Supreme Court of North Carolina; The Honorable Muriel Bowser, Mayor, District of Columbia; Dorothy Butler Gilliam, the first Black woman reporter for The Washington Post; political powerhouses Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah D. Daughtry, and Minyon Moore; Dr. Patricia A. Harris, the first Black woman president, American Medical Association; Joi Gordon, CEO, Dress for Success Worldwide, and Deryl McKissack and Cheryl McKissack Daniel, President and CEO, McKissack & McKissack, oldest woman/minority-owned professional design and construction firm in the United States. Spelman College sophomore Jacqueline Thompson was also recognized as the recipient of BWA’s Bright Futures Scholarship Award.
“As Black women, we have proven that we are a force to be reckoned with,” Hess said, “however securing our interests and maintaining a presence on the America’s landscape requires us to be ever vocal, visible and vigilant.”
Founded in 1977 in Washington, DC, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(C)3 organization that generates awareness and support for issues that secure, protect and advance the rights of Black women and their families. BWA is comprised of 22 collaborating organizations — sororities, civic, service and faith-based — representing millions of women worldwide.
On March 8, 2019, the 116th U.S House of Representatives passed the historic For the People Act of 2019 (HR 1), also known as “The Restoring Our Democracy” bill. Introduced by Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) on January 3, 2019 and co-sponsored by 236 House members, HR 1 is a comprehensive bill that expands voter registration and voting access, makes Election Day a national holiday, and limits removing voters from voter rolls. Further, to guard against unjust gerrymandering, the bill provides for states to establish independent nonpartisan redistricting commissions. The bill is organized in three Divisions: A: Voting, B: Campaign Finance and C: Ethics.
Relatedness is a basic psychological experience. We all need to feel connected to other human beings: to care and be cared for, and to belong. We believe that bringing our country together starts with meaningful conversation. Our goal is to reduce polarization and social bias, to increase the willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue, and create an increased understanding and appreciation for our differences and similarities.