MARISA WILLIAMS

African American women have a long history of having to fight for justice and equality. Whether it was fighting for freedom, to vote, to make decisions about their own bodies, for quality education, to have a seat at the corporate “table” and receive the same pay as their male and White female counterparts, or, in more recent years, the right to not have their children’s lives taken away by excessive force and senseless violence, there has always been a struggle to overcome. To generalize what was so poignantly summed up by Oprah Winfrey’s character, Sophia, in the movie “The Color Purple,” all our lives we “had to fight.” And although African American women have made great strides, as so well portrayed in the box office hit and award-winning film “Hidden Figures,” there is still so far to go.

The New Pittsburgh Courier asked several African American women who work diligently in Pittsburgh’s private and public sectors to overcome these obstacles, their thoughts on the women’s movement, today, and role that African American women will play in achieving true justice and equality.

Women’s History Month

QUESTION:
Although women, especially African American women, have come a long way in the fight for justice and equality, there is still work to be done. What do you think are some of the issues that women currently face? What role do you think African American have played in the movement to achieve true justice and equality? And what role would you like to see them play, in the future?

VALERIE MCDONALD ROBERTS
Chief Urban Affairs Officer, Office of Mayor William Peduto

“The critical responsibility of caring for children, spouse/significant other, family members, aging parents and the general functioning of the household (that includes, education, transportation, quality housing) has always fallen upon the woman without the status, credit and acknowledgment deserved.  This often makes it difficult for women to reach job and career potentials with attached earnings according to their true talents.

African American women have been the definition of strength, resiliency, resourcefulness, intelligence and peace.  I personally don’t recall, as a child of the ‘50s or ‘60s, my family or immediate community’s involvement in the fight for women’s rights, simply because Black men and women were busy fighting for basic equality of African Americans on so many fronts (jobs, housing, education, recreation).

As women are the backbone of our communities, women of all colors and faiths must work effectively together, now and in the future, to strengthen and straighten the back.”

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