In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda convened more than 40 Black women Reproductive Justice leaders from around the country for the first annual Strategic Communications for Policy Change Summit in Washington, DC, September 25-29, 2015. Summit participants engaged in intense discussion, education and strategic planning for five days; resulting in a stronger shared mission for lifting up the voices of Black women in our struggle for improved sexual and reproductive health for all women.
The Summit included encouraging words from Dorothy Roberts, acclaimed scholar on race, gender and the law. During her opening plenary, “We Are the Ones Everyone is Waiting For,” she shared her historical perspective of Reproductive Justice, and the critical role that Black women played in framing that agenda and must play toward formulating a future agenda – – providing the perfect launch pad for the entire Summit. Other notable speakers included:
- Byllye Y. Avery – Founder, Black Women’s Health Imperative
- Carmen Berkley – Director, Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Division, AFL-CIO
- Glynda C, Carr – Co-founder, Higher Heights
- Michele L. Jawando – Vice President, Legal Progress, Center for American Progress
The staff, board members and key volunteers of the five organizational partners – Black Women for Wellness, Black Women’s Health Imperative, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, SisterLove, Inc, and SPARK Reproductive Justice Now – added to the learning by providing regional and state examples and lessons learned, to each plenary discussion. Summit participants also contributed their expertise during small group strategy sessions, providing content and a roadmap for a national agenda around the targeted policy priorities of abortion access, contraceptive equity and comprehensive sex education within an RJ frame.
“We could not be happier with the insightful engagement these women and men brought to the Summit,” said Marcela Howell, Founder and Strategic Director of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda. “We left this gathering with a clear policy vision that will be used to guide our work for the next 12-months.”
Before returning to their respective home states, Summit participants also took part in an educational day on the Hill where they visited their Congressional representatives to discuss the mission and goals of In Our Own Voice. Each visit reinforced their organizational relationship with the representatives and provided the offices with critical information about the reproductive justice needs of Black women.
Go to our website and sign up to join In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda in our national policy work to mobilize the power of Black women’s voices and votes in support of Reproductive Justice.