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Statement from In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
WASHINGTON — As Women’s Equality Day (August 26, 2021) — the anniversary of women’s suffrage — approaches, Black women are still fighting as attacks on our voting rights are mounting. Marcela Howell, founder and president of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, issued the following statement calling for immediate action to protect voting rights:
“The anniversary of the 19th Amendment should be called ‘White Women’s Equality Day,’ because only white women won the right to vote while Black women were denied that right through insidious state laws for more than forty years. Today, state lawmakers across the country are once again pulling out all the stops to prevent Black people — and other people of color — from exercising our right to vote. Forty-eight states have introduced more than 380 bills to block the voting rights of Black people.
“In a country that prides itself on monitoring the voting rights of countries around the world, we have to ask the question “what are these conservative lawmakers afraid of?” In the last four years, Black, indigenous and people of color have endured continued assaults on our civil and human rights, including job and pay discrimination, racial and religious hate crimes, and deadly police violence. It took forty-five years, during which many gave their lives, to earn us the right to vote and we will not forfeit that right despite efforts to shut us out.
“These unabashed racist attacks on our most basic human rights must stop now. If the conservative Supreme Court won’t support our rights under the Constitution, then It is incumbent upon federal lawmakers to implement policies and programs that protect our rights. That’s why more than 30 Black women’s organizations and Reproductive Justice activists joined together to create the Black Reproductive Justice Policy Agenda that offers proactive policy solutions to address issues at the intersections of race, gender, class, sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Among those policies is the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would help ensure that all voters are able to cast their vote and have them counted. We call on the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to pass this bill as soon as possible. And we call on federal, state and local policymakers to endorse and implement the Black Reproductive Justice Policy Agenda.
On Women’s Equality Day 2021, we ask: When will Black women celebrate equality? But we know the answer: When Black women’s voices are heard and the people we elect to represent us prioritize our issues, Black women, girls, femmes and gender-expansive individuals will celebrate equality.”
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda is a national reproductive justice organization focused on lifting the voices of Black women at the national and regional levels in our ongoing policy fight to secure reproductive justice for all women and girls. Our eight strategic partners include Black Women for Wellness, Black Women’s Health Imperative, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, SisterLove, Inc. SisterReach, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, The Afiya Center and Women With A Vision.