Empowering Black Women in America

Bre’ionya Irvin Data News Weekly Contributor

Black women have made history in 2020 in American politics and in 2021 they begin the challenging work of empowering all women, particularly as the country aims to recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“More than 22 million women have been forced out of the workforce in the past year, and many of them were Black women,” said Vice President Kamala Harris in her opening remarks for the 10th Annual Black Women’s Roundtable National Virtual Summit titled “Women of Power” this year.

The summit which ran from March 24th through March 28th featured many of the influential, and trailblazing Black women, teens and girls who have been at the forefront of public and civic life in recent years.

Important speakers like; Melanie Campbell, (President and CEO of the Black Women’s Roundtable), Vice President Harris, Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Marcia Fudge, joined other business and community leaders to speak not only about the challenges they face as Black woman, but how Black women can cope, recover from trauma, and rise above the challenges.

“They are women who work in industries that have been devastated. Women who work in jobs that didn’t pay enough even before, and have disappeared now,” Harris said of the impact of the pandemic on women.

“They run small businesses that are struggling to stay open, and with day cares closed and schools remote, they are juggling responsibilities at work and at home. I want you to know that President Biden and I see it all. The power of Black women and the pain Black women are experiencing,” Harris told attendees of the virtual summit.

More women have been laid off from their jobs or cannot find a job because most essential jobs aren’t typically looking to rehire women at this time, or Black women in particular, the presenters shared. The pandemic has worsened poverty levels in Black communities, and most Black families continue to struggle to find affordable, adequate housing.

“Job losses, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, have set labor-force participation among women back to its lowest point in more than 30 years,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge. “In 2019, more than 500,000 people experience homelessness,” Fudge added.
The numbers have increased now that the pandemic has hit. In recognizing Women’s History Month, Fudge reflected on the roll women have played in laying the foundation for the household and for society.

“The fact that through the ages it was women who carried the water, smoothed the rocks, broke the walls, shattered the ceilings, and saved and sustained families, communities, countries, and people,” Fudge said. “That is the legacy from which we benefit. We drink the water they carried and the wells they dug. Even today we drink from wells we did not dig. I am grateful for all the strong women who defied place, and time, and circumstance,” Fudge added.

Additionally, today, women are setting new records. Fudge noted that women are leading the way in becoming homeowners, breaking new records and closing the gender gap in all areas. She noted recent data that showed women have emerged as key home buyers, with single women owning more homes now than single men, about 1 and a half million more.

“Women are breaking the stereotypic holds of ‘men having more power than women,’ or ‘a woman will never be as good as a man,’” Fudge said.

As the country aims to recover economically from the pandemic, White House Director of Domestic Policy, Susan Rice said that women are operating in key positions in federal government to pull the nation out of the economic slump from COVID-19.

“My pledge to you is that we will not shy away from these challenges, we will continue to make the federal government accountable for advancing equity for families across America,” Rice said in her remarks. The history of this nation from reconstruction to the Civil Rights Era, to the 2020 election showed that Black workers, families, and voters, especially Black women, have never stopped pushing this country forward, and demanding that the nation live up to its highest ideals, Rice said.

“May their struggle galvanize us. May their perseverance inspire us, and may their courage embolden us to keep marching forward as we continue this vital work together,” Rice said.

Harris shared that it is this sisterhood of Black women that has pulled the Black community through hard times in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

“Over the past year, faced with this devastating pandemic, Black women have been true heroes,” Vice President Harris said.
“The power of Black women is undeniable. We see it in the ballot box, and in the boardroom, in state houses, and in the Halls of Congress,” Harris added.

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the opening address for the 10th Annual Black Women’s Roundtable National Summit on March 24, 2021.

U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia Fudge, delivered the keynote address for the Annual Black Women’s Roundtable Women of Power National Summit.

Former Ambassador Susan Rice, who currently serves as the Director of the United States Domestic Policy Council spoke at the Annual Black Women’s Roundtable Summit that was held virtually from March 24th to 28th, 2021.

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