The African American Women for Political Change kicked off Black History Month (or in this case, “herstory”) with a bit of perspective on its journey thus far and a charge to continue with strong community and political activism. Sharing their reflections were some of the founding members.

FOUNDERS PLUS—Founders plus current officers. Seated, center: visionary founder Cathryn L. Irvis, wife of the late Speaker of the House K. Leroy Irvis. From left: June Pickett Dowdy, Janet Wagner, Irvis, Katie E. Johnson and Albertha Graham. Standing in back: current officers Imogene Hines, Jerry Ann Allen, Joy Maxberry Woodruff and Beverly Walker.

After acknowledging guests and new members, the meeting centered on its founding visionaries and their vision. These pioneering women included Cathryn L. Irvis (wife of the late U.S. Speaker of the House K. Leroy Irvis), Katie Everett Johnson, June Pickett Dowdy Ph.D, Albertha Graham Ph.D, Janet Wagner, Jerry Ann Allen, Sharon Watkins, Guinevere Gregory and Dr. Edna McKenzie (deceased). Irvis, now residing in Harrisburg, said a long pent-up frustration with the lack of representation of Black women among Pittsburgh elected officials served as a motivation for action and formation of the AAWPC.

Building momentum for the upcoming November elections, the membership and their guests heard an invitation from Chuck Powell, a representative of Senator Bob Casey, to co-host a candidacy forum on March 16, 2012 to be held at the August Wilson Center.

In line with AAWPC mission statement, the group studies and supports candidates on the Pennsylvania landscape while advocating to make sure that the issues that affect the African American community are introduced, considered and dealt with. Actions that suggest lip service only are discouraged as unacceptable and accountability is strongly encouraged.

In the past, AAWPC has held forums in support of current Superior Court Judge Cheryl Allen and former Recorder of Deeds Valerie McDonald Roberts, in addition to other unsuccessful candidates.

The current officers of AAWPC are President Joy Maxberry Woodruff, Vice Presidents Imogene Hines and Katie Everette Johnson, Secretary Beverly Walker and Treasurer Jerry Ann Allen. All inquiries to AAWPC should be directed to

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