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In 1969, Shirley Chisholm gave a speech at Howard University. The student body was reeling from the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. a short year earlier, and engaging in protests in opposition to the Vietnam War. They were also struggling over divided opinions about the increasing militancy of the black power movement, and were clashing with Howard’s administration over housing and academic issues.
In front of a full auditorium, the newly elected. First. Black. Woman. in Congress – talked about all of it. One part of the speech that has stayed with me and has become a mantra of mine, is where she talks about the Black power movement, the full quote is:
And Black people will gain only as much as they can through their ability to organize independent bases of economic and political power. Through boycotts, electoral activity, rent strikes, etcetera. Black power is concerned with organizing the rage of black people. Organizing the rage. And is putting new hard questions and demands to white America. We will build a new sense of community among our people. We will foster a bond between those who have made it and those on the bottom.
This limited series is my attempt to organize MY rage.
I curated a list – with Feminist Book Club Member’s help – of progressive, female candidates to feature on this blog. We want to shine a light on not just “major” races – but on down ballot races as well, because politics are personal and every race impacts your life.
Because this is a book club, I asked what the candidates were reading to get them through this time. I found the answers illuminating and it filled me with hope that these smart, learned women will win their elections.
If you’re able to, I hope you join me in donating the equivalent of a cup of coffee to their campaigns. We need to do more than just hope. We need to read about these candidates; resist any attempt to block our voices, and; vote them into office. Because our lives depend on it.
Enjoy this week’s candidate spotlight and stay tuned every Friday (except October 9th – that’s for the Feminist Book Club Read-A-Thon) for a new batch of candidates.
Kansas – Representative Sharice Davids
About the Candidate: Representative Sharice Davids is one of two Native women elected to the United States House of Representatives. She represents the 3rd Congressional District in Kansas and – in an incredibly cool fact – has competed as an MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter.
What are you Reading? Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality by Danielle Allen
What’s it about? Allen writes about the Declaration of Independence in a way not seen before. She talks about it like it’s alive and can change our lives today – even though some would argue it is not a “living” document, like the Constitution. Allen makes the case throughout that the Declaration of Independence is about political equality as much as it is about individual liberty.
Where can we donate? Through our secure ActBlue page
Florida – Representative Anna V. Eskamani
About the Candidate: Representative Anna V. Eskamani represents Florida House District 47 in Central Florida. She’s also the first Iranian woman ever to hold public office in Florida.
What are you Reading? The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having–Or Being Denied–An Abortion by Diana Greene Foster
What’s it about? It’s incredible research that focuses on women and abortions, there is nothing like it! The author followed women for 10 years to see what the impact was of being able to end a pregnancy vs. being turned away. During a time where our right to retain bodily autonomy is on the ballot, I think it is important to learn about how women are impacted by in both situations, and to make sure I’m always advocating from a place of knowledge.
Where can we donate? Via our secure website.
District of Columbia – Councilmember Brooke Pinto
About the Candidate: I am currently the Councilmember representing Ward 2 on the DC Council. I am running for re-election as the Democratic nominee. I was the youngest person ever to serve as a DC councilmember and the first woman to represent Ward 2.
What are you Reading? I am currently reading Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration by Emily Bazelon.
What is it About? Charged is about the injustice of our criminal justice system and the power that prosecutors and courts have in shaping the outcomes – and inequities – so pervasive in the system. I actually heard Ms. Bazelon speak while I was working at the DC Office of the Attorney General and found her to be very moving about the power of discretion and the heightened responsibility prosecutors have to ensure outcomes are just. Now, as a Councilmember serving on the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, I am even more inspired by reading this book to garner creative ideas for legislative avenues to improve the criminal justice system to ensure that when someone makes a mistake, they have a meaningful opportunity at a second chance. In a fall juggling demands of my job on the Council and running for re-election, I am so grateful to be reading a book that reminds me of why I do this work and the difference I can make.
Where can we donate? Via our secure ActBlue page!