Congressional caucus helps black women push for equality

With the recent announcement of a Congressional caucus geared toward “eliminating significant barriers and disparities experienced by black women,’’ it may be the perfect time to push for equality among all groups of women.

Disparities among women in America still exist. While the wage gap between men and women is commonly known, a wage gap between white women and black women also exists. In Tennessee, black women make 68.6 cents to every dollar a white man makes while, while white women earn 77.2 cents for every white man’s dollar, according to data from the National Women’s Law Center.

At the end of March, three Democratic House members announced in a press release the launch of a Congressional caucus that would focus on black women and girls in the same way President Barak Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program focuses on black men and boys. A Congressional caucus is a group of members of the U.S.Congress with common legislative objectives. Although there are 430 Congressional caucuses, the recently formed initiative is the first to focus solely on black women and girls.

Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Robin Kelly of Illinois and Yvette D. Clarke of New York pushed for the caucus and hosted a reception to launch the group on April 28 in Washington D.C.

The caucus was created in response to a grassroots effort by seven black female activists called the #SheWoke Committee that came about after the 2015 arrest and alleged suicide of Sandra Bland, who was pulled over and later arrested and jailed for a minor traffic violation.

Her sister, Sharon Cooper, is part of the committee. The group started with a hashtag and reached some form of closure with a petition that called for congressional response to the disparities black women face.

Chris Johnson is an assistant professor of history at the University of Memphis. He said it would be inaccurate to say this is the beginning of a Black Women’s Movement because black women have been fighting for a very long time for social and economic equality.

Historically, however, black women have never been the center of any large movements in America. For example, the Civil Right’s movement was headed by black men like Martin Luther King Jr. and the Women’s Liberation movement in the 1960s and ‘70s was largely led by white women.


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About the Author

Kristina Vitsenko
Kristina Vitsenko, born and raised in Memphis, will receive her B.A. in journalism in May from the University of Memphis. Throughout her senior year, she has worked as a design editor for The Daily Helmsman and is currently writing for Memphis Mirror. She loves her city and all of the diversity that comes with it. When she is not busy with school and work, she enjoys to bake, eat, and take her beagle Allison on walks.

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