MBWR co-convenor Cassandra Welchlin recently supported a gathering aimed at increasing the civic engagement of black women in Mississippi.
According to an article highlighting the meeting at Jackson State University, “dozens of black women came together to strategize about the upcoming midterm elections, opening the gathering with a freedom song.”
“The revolution done signed my name,” they moaned, invoking the names of the ancestors whose strength has willed them to persevere: Harriet Tubman. Shirley Chisholm. Aretha Franklin. Two were like them, daughters of Mississippi: Ella Jo Baker. Fannie Lou Hamer.
“All of us who are in the room right now are midwives for transformation,” said Rukia Lumumba, daughter of the late Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, and co-founder of the Electoral Justice Project.
The impact of such targeted work is evident. Black women went to the polls in record numbers last December to elect Doug Jones as the first Democratic senator from Alabama in 25 years. As of this week, 39 black women are nominees for the U.S. House in the November midterms, including 22 women who aren’t incumbents.
The meeting soon shifted to strategy as the women plotted how to harness the energy of black female voters this fall. Scenes like these are playing out across the country as black women convene at schools, churches and homes to plan how to make sure that black voters — particularly women — are aware of the upcoming elections, registered and planning to vote and that their family members will do the same.
It’s all part of an effort to reshape the politics of the Trump era when many black voters feel threatened by the country’s increasingly racially polarized climate, with concerns ranging from access to the ballot box to the president’s hostility to protesting NFL players and the violent demonstrations last summer in Charlottesville, Virginia.