African-American women will gather for the Power Rising: Building an Agenda for Black Women Summit on Feb. 22 in Atlanta to capitalize on their growing political and economic strength.
The three-day conference provides a space to exchange ideas on how to turn this power into action that can benefit Black women, as well as their families and communities. The idea was born at a retreat that the female members of the Congressional Black Caucus organized after the 2016 presidential election, Emma Christman, one of the conference organizers, told NewsOne.
“It’s been a labor of love for the 30 women on the steering committee who have been raising funds for the conference,” Christman added. An estimated 700 women are expected to attend.
The collective power of Black women “has not been appreciated,” New Jersey’s Democratic Rep. Bonnie Coleman, who will be speaking at the conference, told NPR.
Coleman pointed to the collective voting power of Black women that has consistently been on display in recent elections. Black women voted at the highest percentage of any other demographic in 2008 and 2012, according to the Black Women’s Roundtable. Most recently, they were credited with pushing U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat, across the finish line in a special election contest in a deep red state.
In the business arena, Black women represent the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States. The number of businesses owned by African-American women grew 322 percent between 1997 and 2015.
They are also major contributors to the economy. “You know, by 2021, they estimate that Black women will drive about $1.3 trillion of our economy,” Karen Finney, a summit organizer and former Hillary Clinton adviser, said. However, financial institutions are ignoring Black women, she added.
Given all this strength, the women will form an agenda around five pillars of activism: business and economic empowerment; culture, community, and society; education, technology, and innovation; health and wellness; and political empowerment.
Ideas for actionable next steps will come out of the panel discussions and workshops, Christman stated. An agenda will emerge from those ideas that the women can take back to their communities.