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Black women celebrate their political power at second annual march

March 18, 2019

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s “Run the World (Girls)” blasted out of speakers at Emancipation Park in Third Ward on Saturday, prompting black women young and older to start to dancing.

They were among hundreds of Houstonians at the 2nd annual March for Black Women sponsored by Houston Rising, a coalition of black women leaders.

The event aimed to celebrate the beauty and excellence of black women, black girls in particular, as well as major milestones including the election of 17 black women to Harris County judge benches, the election of more black women into the 116th United States Congress than any previous Congress, and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ response to the 2019 State of the Union.

“It’s all about black women today,” said Kandice Webber, co-founder of Houston Rising and organizer with Black Lives Matter Houston.

Webber and Nisha Randle, staff member of the Harris County Democratic Party, started the march last year after being inspired by a similar event in Washington D.C. Randle noted that with the 2020 presidential election buzz underway, it was important to have events like Saturday’s to recognize the political power in the black women voting bloc.

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“We are the driving force for progress,” Randle said. “We always have been”

Poetry, speeches and personal stories of struggle and perseverance were shared on stage throughout the day.

Jessica Byrd, deputy campaign manager for Abrams, delivered a keynote address on how she founded her own firm, Three Point Strategies, to elect black candidates, namely women, who are authentic in serving their communities.

“I’ve always known that many times folks will ask for our votes, then they’ll get elected and forget to come back,” Byrd said. “But I also have felt the very real impact when people really love you.”

Byrd’s initial objective was to bridge the protesting work she did in Ferguson, Missouri following the police shooting of Michael Brown, with the political campaigning work she was doing in established firms. Her firm now represents Brown’s mother, Lezley McSpadden, who is running for Ferguson’s City Council.

“I believe that what electoral justice offers us is the ability to dream while making interventions,” she said.

Other speakers in attendance included newly elected Harris County judges Tonya Jones and Erica Hughes.

Hughes noted that while the black women voting bloc has remained strong over the years, there’s a new push to also make sure black women get elected.

“Black women know what’s best for our communities,” Hughes said.

Dancing along to Solange Knowles’ new song “Binz,” friends Kendra Morgan, 27 and Tiffany Rushing, 29, felt empowered by attending the festivities.

Morgan said often black women’s struggles and contributions get swept under the rug. Events like the march help bring their experiences to light.

For Rushing, it’s important to black women to recognize themselves first and foremost.

“If we’re not going to cheer us on, who will?” Rushing said.

After several speakers and dance breaks, including a group wobble line dance, Webber and Randle led their guests down Emancipation Avenue chanting: “Na na na na. Na na nan a. Black women, all day long.”

ileana.najarro@chron.com

twitter.com/IleanaNajarro

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