By Nyame-Kye Kondo, Special to the AFRO
The annual, “Women’s E3 Summit,” convened at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. on June 13. With the three E’s standing for, “empowerment, entrepreneurship and engagement,” the event features and caters to a broad range of Black womanhood.
Bringing together the likes of artists, entrepreneurs, million-dollar executives and political leaders, the E3 Summit, in the words of the Deputy Director of the museum, Kinshasha Holman Conwill, “was created to make sure that women are always at the forefront of the story.”
At the forefront indeed, the summit was opened with a meaningful song by D.C.-based artist and educator Ayana Gregory, daughter of comedian and activist Dick Gregory. An anthem to motivate and honor the women present, Gregory’s performance was followed by a panel that included the president of Motown Records Ethiopia Habtemariam, award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, COO of Starbucks Rosalind Brewer, and television personality, Carla Hall. With charismatic journalist and news anchor, Sheinelle Jones, leading the panel, each of the women were given a chance to give their perspective on being Black women in industries that have historically kept them out, and how they were able to overcome the obstacles placed before them with grace and candor.
With each woman using their experience and unique perspectives to answer the questions, the panel was as intriguing as it was informative. Giving responses that applied to women of various walks of life, the first question that the women responded to was, “What steps they take to grow?” One response that stood out came from “Black Panther” costume designer Carter, at which she replied, “opening yourself up and being humble.”
The panel was followed by a quick, but impactful, interlude by Congress woman, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who said very matter of factly about the world of politics being dominated by men. “We don’t mind sharing power, we just want them to share power sometimes,” Norton said.
Concluding with a commentary on the current state of American governance and that it needs new leadership, Norton’s speech was followed with a few words from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who stressed the significance and importance of Black women fellowshipping in such an important place.
With all of the women utilizing their platform to uplift and inspire, it was the keynote speaker Stacey Abrams that tied everything together. Using her experience of running for governor of Georgia as a field of lessons, Abrams was able to assert and bring full circle the theme of the conference by empowering her community to vote through engagement and entrepreneurial behavior.
Abrams also stated that even though she did not win, she still believes that her efforts were not in vain and that no matter the outcome we must, “reclaim and redefine our mission.”