Celebrating the 2nd Annual Black Women’s History Week

For the second year in a row, African American Policy Forum (AAPF) and several of their partners—including the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School, and Planned Parenthood—have been celebrating the last week in March as Black Women’s History Week.

And this year, several leading gender and racial justice organizations have organized a week-long series of commemorative events. This year’s title, #HerDreamDeferred: A Week on the Status of Black Women, includes a themed webinar for each weekday, along with plenty of online discussion using the hashtag #HerDreamDeferred. The full schedule is available here, and though we’re partially through the week already, Thursday’s and Friday’s webinar topics—on sexual assault at HBCUs and Black women veterans, respectively—both look promising and especially timely.

In addition, moves are being made to make Black Women’s History Week nationally recognized, as part of the already-nationally-recognized Women’s History Month. Senator Kristin Gillibrand of New York filed a congressional declaration requesting, for the second year in a row, that the week be officially recognized by the U.S. government.

This news is also happening on the heels of last week’s announcement regarding the creation of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois, and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke of New York released a press release last week announcing the caucus, saying that it would “provide the same attention for women that President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative has given to Black men and boys.” And though I, as a Black girl, am grateful for the focused attention with regards to policy, I’m reminded again of the limitations of the gender binary, as thousands of the most marginalized and vulnerable Black people are obviously still left outside of either banner. And, I have to wonder if Black trans women—still without access to basic needs and still being murdered at disproportionate rates—will be not only included, but centered in these Capitol Hill advocacy efforts.

The fruits of policy advocacy can take a long time to ripen, but there’s still plenty else to celebrate. Given the relentlessness and continued success of Black women organizers and their allies at the grassroots and community level (I’m looking at BYP 100, Assata’s Daughters, BLM Chicago and others for that bomb ass #ByeAnita campaign), I’m feeling hopeful. Take a second this week to revisit the #SayHerName hashtag, and the African American Policy Forum’s report by the same name, #SayHerName: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women. Or maybe do something a little more relaxing like re-watching “Formation” (official music video or Super Bowl performance—your choice cuz AUTONOMY) again or go find a mirror and listen to Rih Rih’s Work. Or just tell a Black girl she’s great. Either way, go celebrate.

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Jacqui Germain is a published poet and freelance writer based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her work is focused on historical and contemporary iterations of black, brown and indigenous resistance. She is also a Callaloo Fellow, and author of "When the Ghosts Come Ashore," published through Button Poetry/Exploding Pinecone Press.

Jacqui Germain is a published poet and freelance writer based in St. Louis, Missouri.

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