By Melanie L. Campbell
As the world nervously focuses its attention on the increasingly volatile Ukrainian conflict in Eastern Europe, pitting the “champions” of democracy against the epitome of authoritarian rule, Black women have been waging their own, constant battle to save democracy as we know it right here in America.
Make no mistake, right now, we don’t have to cross the Atlantic Ocean to witness a democracy being under ferocious attack. And the attack comes from domestic forces and individuals who want to, among other things, suppress our right to vote and keep the Supreme Court a white male-dominated institution. As we conclude another “Black History Month” and begin “Women’s History Month,” let it be known that for decades, Black women have been the “secret sauce” in the struggle to ensure the civil rights of ALL Americans are advanced and protected.
Individually and collectively, Black women have “owned” their power in the last few election cycles to support and elect those candidates who respect our leadership and our vote. Further, Black women are demanding that the candidates we elect act on our policy priorities and elevate Black women’s leadership in seats of power, like the Vice President of the United States and the U. S. Supreme Court. More Black women are holding and running for local, state, and national offices. We are proud, but we know we are far from being done.
Needless to say, however, we know these victories will not be sustained if federal voting rights legislation is not passed to restore the enforcement powers of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Voting is a fundamental right that must be treasured and protected, if the United States of America wants to remain a representative democracy for all Americans.
As Black Americans, we know we have always had to fight for our freedom, including the freedom to vote. Clearly, that is the case once again. For that reason, as was the case with our ancestors, Black women have pledged to continue mobilizing and fighting for voting rights, at every level, until the battle is won.
When it comes to President Biden making good on his campaign promise to choose a Black woman to serve on the U. S. Supreme Court to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, there is a definite collective excitement among Black women across generations. Over the past decade, I, along with many other Black women, have been advocating for this historic moment to manifest.
As we close out Black History Month, we thank President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, for keeping their campaign commitment by nominating Kentanji Brown Jackson to serve as the first Black woman U.S. Supreme Court Justice. The NCBCP Black Women’s Roundtable is working in coalition with our allies to ensure that this nominee is treated fairly and is confirmed without delay.
This has been a rigorous process with input from senators of both parties, legal experts, and civil society. President Biden has chosen an exceptionally well qualified and experienced nominee — someone with the character, integrity, and dedication to the Constitution and rule of law to serve on the nation’s highest court.
To prepare for what is projected to be a battle for this U. S. Supreme Court nominee — as well as the others battles that I am sure will come this year — the Black Women’s Roundtable is convening its 11th annual Women of Power National Summit, March 9-13, 2022, in National Harbor, Maryland, and on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The theme for this year’s BWR Summit is “Rebuilding Hope, Achieving Justice, Equity & Equality: Building Power – Protecting Voting Rights – Saving Our Democracy!”
This annual gathering will bring together, both virtually and in-person, a diverse group of over 1,000 Black women and girls from across the country and the African Diaspora. It will also include our Black Women & Allies Call to Action to support the Black woman nominated to the U. S. Supreme Court and demand Congress pass federal voting rights legislation and other economic justice policies now.
When it comes to the issues of civil rights, voting rights, racial justice, and economic and gender justice, all roads lead through the judicial system. It is one of those key areas where you can exact justice or deny justice. After 233 years of the existence of the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s long past time for a Black woman, with the lived experience of being Black and a woman, to bring her brilliance and exceptional qualifications to this seat of judicial power.
Melanie L. Campbell is the president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable.
The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) is one of the most active civil rights and social justice organizations in the nation “dedicated to increasing civic engagement, economic and voter empowerment in Black America.” The Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) is the women and girls empowerment arm of the NCBCP. At the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women, BWR promotes their health and wellness, economic security and prosperity, education, and global empowerment as key elements for success.