In the coming weeks, as we lead up to Reproductive Justice Week of Action and Election Day, we want to honor our foremothers and Black women today, who are transforming our world right before our eyes. Each of these Black women’s dedication to advancing civil and voting rights has made it possible for us to say: I AM A VOTER!
Carol Moseley Braun: Senator & Women’s Rights Advocate
Sen. Carol Moseley Braun is the first Black woman senator and the second Black senator since the Reconstruction Era. Sen. Moseley Braun became the first woman to serve on the Finance Committee and she and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California became the second and third women ever to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee. During her tenure, Sen. Moseley Braun was a strong advocate for women and Black people, helping create legislation to assist divorced and widowed women and sponsoring a National Park Service initiative to fund historic preservation of the Underground Railroad. She was also an outspoken advocate for those who experienced sexual harassment.
Sojourner Truth: Abolitionist & Women’s Rights Activist
Sojourner Truth was born enslaved but successfully bought her freedom after escaping her slave owners with her infant child. She became an itinerant preacher and met several famous abolitionists, including William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas, as well as famous women’s rights activist, such as Elizabethn Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Although she never learned to read or write, she dictated her autobiography — The Narrative of Sojourner Truth — that brought her national attention.
In 1851, Truth famously delivered her ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ speech that highlighted that duality of racial and gender injustice she and other Black women faced. She spent her later years continuing to deliver speeches nationally and free other enslaved people.
Rep. Marcia Fudge: Congresswoman & Devoted Public Servant
Rep. Marcia L. Fudge has served the people of the 11th Congressional District of Ohio since 2008. Before her tenure as a congresswoman, she was elected as the first African American and first woman mayor of Warrensville Heights. Rep. Fudge is a fierce advocate for voter protection, equitable access to quality education, childhood nutrition, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, fair labor practices and civil and human rights, among other issues.
Rep. Maxine Waters: Congresswoman & Activist
Rep. Maxine Moore Waters is the U.S. representative for California’s 43rd congressional district since 1991. She is most senior of the 12 Black women currently serving in Congress. Throughout her career, she has confronted issues of poverty, economic development, equal justice under the law and other policy issues of concern to people of color, children, and impoverished communities.
A’shanti F. Gholer: Political Activist
A’shanti F. Gholar serves as the president of Emerge, the only organization dedicated to recruiting and training Democratic women to run for office. In this role, she leads the organization and steers its overall strategy and direction, overseeing a national staff as well as affiliates across the country.
A’shanti is a nationally recognized political strategist, grassroots organizer, and activist for women, communities of color and progressive causes. A’shanti serves as an Advisory Board Member for Global GAIN, an Expert Advisor for Forward Majority Action, and as a Sisters on the Planet Ambassador for OxFam America. She is also the founder of The Brown Girls Guide to Politics, which was named one of the top podcasts to prepare people for the 2020 election by Marie Claire.
Rosa Parks: Civil Rights Movement Leader
Called “the mother of the civil rights movement,” Rosa Parks invigorated the struggle for racial equality when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Parks’ arrest on December 1, 1955, launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott. A Supreme Court ruling and declining revenues forced the city to desegregate its buses thirteen months later.
In the wake of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Parks lost her tailoring job and received death threats. She and her family moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1957. However, she remained an active member of the NAACP and worked for Congressman John Conyers (1965-1988) helping the homeless find housing. The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute Of Self-Development was established in 1987 to offer job training for black youth. In 1999, Parks received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor, the highest honor a civilian can receive in the United States. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) also sponsors an annual Rosa Parks Freedom Award. (nps.gov)
Representative Jahanna Hayes: Congresswoman & Educator
Jahana Hayes is the U.S. Representative for the Fifth Congressional District of Connecticut. Representative Hayes was elected to the United States House of Representatives in November 2018, making her the first African-American woman and the first African-American Democrat to ever represent the state of Connecticut in Congress.
Congresswoman Hayes’ story is one of achievement despite the odds and overcoming the obstacles that life can place before you. She has been quoted as saying that “education saved her life” and is a fierce advocate for ensuring that equitable access to educational opportunities exists for all students and families.
Zerlina Maxwell: Author & Political Analyst
Zerlina Maxwell is an American cable television host, political analyst, commentator, speaker, and writer. She writes and speaks about culture, gender inequity, sexual consent, racism, and similar topics. She is a survivor of sexual assault and describes herself as a survivor activist.
Fannie Lou Hamer: Civil Rights Activist
We honor our foremother, Fannie Lou Hamer, who rose from racism and even forced sterilization to become one of the most critical and influential voices of the civil and voting rights movements and a leader in the efforts for greater economic opportunities for Black people.