THE SPIRIT OF CHANGE TOWN HALL
SPIRIT OF CHANGE: THE BLACK WOMEN’S AGENDA, INC. HOSTS FAITH LEADERS, ACTIVISTS, ELECTED OFFICIALS, JOURNALISTS, AND A MULTICULTURAL AUDIENCE FOR TOWN HALL CONVERSATION ON DIFFERENCES, COMMONALITIES AND HOW WE MOVE AMERICA FORWARD
WASHINGTON, DC – Saturday, May 18, 2019– The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. (BWA) hosted faith leaders, activists, elected officials, journalists, and a multicultural audience from across the political spectrum today for Spirit of Change, a frank and expansive town hall conversation on some of the nation’s most pressing issues, at Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital.
During discussions that included fielding questions posed by the audience, T.J. Holmes, ABC News Anchor and Correspondent, and the town hall moderator; Maya Wiley, MSNBC Legal Analyst and Senior Vice President for Social Justice at the New School University;Alice Stewart, CNN Political Commentator and veteran senior communications advisor on numerous Republican presidential campaigns; Joel Rubin, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and a seasoned expert on foreign policy and national security; Qasim Rashid, Muslim rights activist, attorney, and a former candidate for the U.S. Senate from Virginia’s 28th District; Niger Innis, CNN and Fox News Political Commentator and National Chairman, Congress on Racial Equality (CORE); Tara Setmayer, CNN Political Commentator, ABC News Political Contributor, and former GOP communications director, Reverend Eric S.C. Manning, Senior Pastor, “Mother” Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, and Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), explored such topics as gun control, the death penalty, the rise of anti-Semitism and White nationalism, immigration, Islamophobia, the Mueller report, and the 2020 presidential election.
“At a time when our nation is deeply divided, many people are afraid to speak openly with one another,” explained BWA President Gwainevere Catchings Hess. “They want to avoid confrontation and controversy, and while this is understandable, not communicating makes matters worse. With the Spirit of Changetown hall, The Black Women’s Agenda is providing a forum for an open, honest and civil discussion that we hope will help promote a culture of peace, clarity, respect, and healing.”
A 2017 Cato Institute survey entitled The State of Free Speech and Tolerance in Americafound that nearly 60% of Americans believe the political climate prevents them from sharing their own political beliefs, and more than 70% feel that political correctness has silenced important discussions our society needs to have.
Similarly, Hidden Tribes, a 2018 study conducted by More In Common, an international initiative to build stronger, more united and resilient societies and communities, found that whether they are progressive, conservative, disengaged or a member of the “exhausted majority,” most Americans consider the nation’s political divisions to be one its most pressing problems. It also provided evidence that indicated that 77% of Americans believe our differences are not so great that we cannot come together.
In the weeks following the Spirit of Change Town Hall, BWA will encourage participants, organizations, and others to host coffees, meals and small gathering around the country that bring groups of multi- cultural people in their communities together to talk about the things they have in common and that make them different.
“The time for shouting at one another is over. So is the time for nottalking to each other.” Hess insisted. “We all have a stake in America’s future, and it is time that we start exploring possibilities for building bridges that can help unite us.”
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.
Founded in 1977, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. is a national organization with a mission of educating and protecting the rights of African American women and their families, and represents more than 3 million women.
This Open Letter is being sent in support of women throughout the United States and the World. We understand the importance of recognizing the “person-hood” of women and their complete dominion over their bodies, including matters of pregnancy and reproductive health.
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.
In 2008, the US House of Representatives designated July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, which is now known as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that “racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care. Poor mental health care access and quality contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including suicide, among racial and ethnic minority populations.”