Black Women Executive Directors Organize Coffee Chats, Roadshows, Listening Sessions to Help Community Engage in Redistricting
November 15, 2021
BATON ROUGE, La. – The Black Southern Women’s Collective today announced a series of efforts to encourage Black communities to engage in redistricting in states across the country. The network of Black women who lead grassroots groups in the South noted that the way local district lines are drawn is crucial for marginalized communities’ future. To ensure active participation, the collection of executive directors has organized weekly virtual coffee chats, listening sessions, roadshows bringing legislators and constituents together, and education workshops.
“A child who is five now will be 15 by the next redistricting cycle – that’s most of their childhood,” said Ashley Shelton, executive director of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice. “When we fight for fair district maps, we are fighting for our children’s future and that is a fight we cannot afford to ignore. This is the impetus behind our organizing around redistricting that has included bringing legislators and community members together as well as a roadshow tour where we go community by community detailing what redistricting is and how people can engage in the process. We are also hosting weekly virtual chats to engage young people about redistricting in a way that is accessible and user-friendly.”
“In 2020, Black women turned out in record numbers and helped contribute to historic voter turnout that led to a new president and flipping the Senate from Republican- to Democratic-controlled,” said Tameka Greer, executive director of the Memphis Artists for Change. “This year we have an opportunity to do something that we will not get to do again for another 10 years: encourage our communities to engage in redistricting and urge legislators to ensure a fair and equal redistricting process.”
“Communities receive more resources when they are united in one district, and this ensures they have a powerful voice,” said Rev. Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith in Florida. “When politicians divide our community into multiple districts, our voting power is fractured and weakened. That is why Faith in Florida is hosting education sessions to ensure our community understands not only what redistricting is but how to engage in it. We will work to bring awareness about redistricting to communities in all 35 counties. Many communities have no idea what redistricting is and how they may be impacted. In our discussions, we will cover how redistricting impacts communities economically and politically. We’ll also discuss how candidates who may care about our values may have less chances of winning if district lines are gerrymandered.”
“Fighting for fairly drawn districts is one of the most important steps in allowing voters to decide if unresponsive politicians should be replaced by representatives who will fight for the interests and needs of the people,” said Phyllis Hill, founder of the Black Southern Women’s Collective and organizing director for Faith in Action. “The energy Black women brought to the 2020 presidential elections and prior elections is the energy we must harness when it comes to redistricting. If Black women – and by extension Black communities – are not engaged, others will decide what we need. I’m not asking Black women or Black people to out-organize racism; I’m asking us to show up.”
The Black Southern Women's Collective is designed to be a soft space for Black women. It is a cohort of Black women executive directors in the South who commit to share wisdom and resources to help improve the material conditions in the lives of Black folk.