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PREPARING TO INFORM—Renee Aldrich, the founder and director at Softer Side Seminars, is prepared for this weekend’s family summit. (Photo by Diane I. Daniels)

It’s time for a power shift throughout the country, and in some states Black women’s leadership, influence and power has been intensifying and making the shift.

“In some spaces, such as in the political sphere, Black women’s leadership and power is truly rising. Through both voter participation and by waging successful electoral campaigns as candidates themselves, Black women are, at this moment, exemplifying historic political strength,” said Rev. Dr. Judith C. Moore, Executive Director of Sisters Saving Ourselves Now and Convener of the Pittsburgh/Mon Valley Black Women’s Roundtable. “Locally, look at the recent win of Summer Lee in the 34th State (House) Legislative district during the May Primary election and in Ferguson, Missouri, just last week Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, announced that she is running for city council in a city where her son was killed by a White police officer.”

Quoting from the Black Women in the United States & Key States 2018 Annual Report, produced by the Black Women’s Roundtable, she pointed out that Black women continue the fight to push through challenges where they exist, while also building on strengths in the political and economic arenas and beyond.

The report also revealed that entrepreneurship is viewed as a conduit to greater economic power for Black women. Its research indicates that from 1997 to 2016, the number of businesses owned by Black women increased by more than 600 percent, putting Black women as the fastest growing demographic to embrace entrepreneurship in the nation.

Despite the tremendous gains Black women are achieving, there are many areas of deficiency. Economic and social justice barriers, escalating racism, sexism, misogyny and civil rights reversals are just a few. This weekend, local and national experts will be on hand during the annual Sisters Saving Ourselves Now Black Family Summit. Aiming to empower, enlighten, engage and organize women, Rev. Moore emphasizes that the time is now for women in the Pittsburgh region to get involved, embolize and develop a unified strategy around issues of race and gender equity, economic security and prosperity, affordable health care, criminal justice reform, jobs, quality public education and clean air.

“For the past six years we have focused on issues affecting women and the Black family, but this year we must be more intentional,” said Moore. “We have political officials, community advocates, medical experts and entrepreneurs that are prepared to create an intense agenda. Some of our topics will address health and environmental disparities, how the community can address violence in Pittsburgh and the Mon Valley, civil rights yesterday, today and tomorrow and how we have to brand ourselves and relate our stories to the public.”

The summit kicks off with youth night, Friday, Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of Community College of Allegheny College South Campus in West Mifflin. Sponsored by Kyle I. Ross, a Western and Southern Life representative, the evening will consist of a mime competition. The youth focus will continue Saturday, Aug. 18, with a teen trac conducted by Renee Aldrich, the founder and director at Softer Side Seminars.

Others involved in the Saturday seminars include Joseph K. Gordon from Allegheny General Hospital; Ronell Guy, managing director of Landless Peoples Alliance; Brenda Tate, state Democratic Committee Person, Jake Wheatley, state representative, V. Fawn Walker Montgomery with Take Action Mon Valley; Kimberly Fitzpatrick with Fitzpatrick Marketing Group; Kathy Bynum with Bynums Marketing and Communications Inc.; and Soleil Meade of Soleil Branding Essentials.

Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable, will be the keynote speaker for the summit. “I am always excited to come to Pittsburgh and the Mon Valley,” said Campbell. “Women in this area, like around the country, are making great strides politically. We have to keep the momentum going. Now more than ever, it is of vital importance to lift up Black women and girls’ perspectives, methods, leadership and build on this track record of success.”’

Founded in 1976 and based in Washington D.C., the NCBCP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing civic engagement and voter participation in Black and underserved communities.

SSON is dedicated to identifying barriers and formulating actionable steps for women of all colors with a specific focus on underserved women. The organization’s objective is to convene other like-minded organizations that have a passion and a willingness to collectively participate in eliminating the challenges women face. Its goal is to develop a national agenda for mobilizing areas of concern for women in Pittsburgh and throughout the Mon Valley.

(Information on the Aug. 17-18 summit can be obtained by calling 412-427-8994.)

 

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