NATIONAL SAFETY MONTH
BLACK WOMEN PROMOTING PEACE & JUSTICE IN OUR COMMUNITY
by Danielle Nicole Motley
BWOPA/TILE DWJ Public Policy Fellow 2017
The month of June is generally recognized in this country as National Safety Month. Consequently, BWOPA/TILE's theme for the month of June is "Black Women Promoting Peace and Justice in our communities". We are honored to have Ms. Danielle Nicole Motley, one of our 2017 DWJ Fellows, explain the way black women across the country, especially in the Bay Area have inspired and empowered her to continue the fight for peace and justice in our community.
"Were it not for Black women,
there would have been no one to fight for me and I would not be here to fight alongside you ..."
- Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter
Exactly one year ago, I visited the Bay Area for the first time. After falling in love with its possibilities, its history, and of course, the weather, I ended my visit knowing for certain that I'd soon return to make this my home, which I did so just a few months later. Of all the things that inspire me about the Bay Area, being out on the front lines, fighting for peace and justice alongside other Black women, is at the top of my list.
Since moving here, I immediately started building my community and connecting with some of the Bay Area's most phenomenal women. In September, just a few days after I arrived, I joined Essie Justice Group in Sacramento to lobby for SB1157, a bill authored by Senator Holly Mitchell to protect in-person jail visits in California. After a day of lobbying, we had the opportunity to meet with Senator Mitchell in her office. We packed her space with women whose lives had intersected with the criminal justice system. Their sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and husbands were living life behind bars. We were also joined by formerly incarcerated women who were now fighting for the comrades they left behind. Although, SB1157 was ultimately vetoed by Governor Brown, the energy and passion shared amongst the Senator and all the women who were there fighting for their loved ones that day is unforgettable. Since that visit, I've been following the work of Sen. Mitchell, all of her priorities for 2017 focuses solely on protections for youth, expanding mental health services and fostering environments for families and communities to thrive. Senator Mitchell continues to be a warrior for us all!
Last October, during the Black Panther Party 50-year anniversary celebrations, I had the privilege of attending various events where I sat at the feet of amazing Black women, like Angela Davis, Elaine Brown, Erica Huggins, Fannie Haughton and others whose lives I'd only learned about via books and documentaries. Although, each of these women are still active in the struggle, and fighting for our community in their own way, it's evident that their legacy and spirit guides the work of the countless women who have come after them.
Black women built this country and Black women are fighting to save this country. We do it everyday we wake up to fight to overcome bigotry, hatred and injustice in our communities. Black women like Carol F. Burton, BWOPA State Board Member, who fights for decarceration, children of incarcerated parents and various other public safety initiatives in the state of California and nationally; and Lateefah Simon, President of Akonandi Foundation and the first Black woman to be elected to BART Board of Directors, who vowed during her victory speech on election night that if Trump won, we'd only fight harder!; and Taina Vargas-Edmond, Founder and Executive Director of Initiate Justice, who leads an organization that engages people directly impacted by incarceration to write, pass, and implement California state ballot initiatives; and Dr. Fatima Alleyne, West Contra Costa County Board of Education Board Trustee and 2016 Dezie Woods Jones Fellow, who advocates for education equity and quality public education; and Carroll Fife, who is leading the fight for Cannabis Equity in the city of Oakland, which seeks to eliminate barriers and right the wrongs of structural racism and the impact of the War on Drugs in our community, alongside city Councilmembers, Lynette McElhaney and Desley Brooks; and lastly, but certainly not least, Dezie Woods Jones, State President/CEO of BWOPA/TILE, who paved the way for Black women like me to have a viable path to public office, where I can continue to fight and enact change in my community.
I could never list every Black woman that I draw strength and inspiration from, as there are too many to name. So, to ALL the Black women in the Bay Area and beyond, who have dedicated their lives to promoting peace and justice in our community, those on the front lines, and those behind the scenes, those from the past whose spirits still lives amongst us and the leaders of the future, I see you. I love you. I'm inspired by you. I'm honored to be in this fight alongside each one of you! My hope is to meet many more of you dynamic women in my journey towards change.
Join the movement to support BWOPA/TILE's effort to build the leadership bench for social change. Invest in our young leaders to create the change we want to see in our world.
Remember, when you give back, you change lives. www.bwopatileleads.org
Danielle Nicole Motley
2017 DWJ Fellow
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