BLACK WOMEN OF THE YEAR

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Dr E Faye Williams1
Dr. E. Faye Williams

TriceEdney — As the leader of a national women’s organization, there are only rare moments each year when I don’t view the world without considering how events pertain to women, their families, and impact their quality of life.  Although it’s taken far too long, the pendulum of justice is beginning a swing toward justice for women.  Clearly, this isn’t a result of a general epiphany for justice.  Rather, it results from progressive women extending themselves, forthe greater good of womanhood, beyond boundaries artificially imposed upon them.  At year’s end, I recognize and commend several women whose characters and conduct stand as models for us all.

Few life-stories are as inspirational and uplifting as that of Serena Williams.  She has destroyed stereotypical expectations for an African American woman reared in circumstances which were supposed to limit her.  Named by Sports Illustrated Magazine as 2015 Sportsperson of the Year, and International Tennis Federation Woman World Champion of 2015, Serena has parlayed her tennis skills into world-wide notoriety and entrepreneurial opportunities for herself and others.  Six times, she’s been ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association as the World’s Number One women’s single player.  She’s a multiple winner of all four Tennis Grand Slam Championships (21 total) and the all-time winning woman in prize earnings.  

This year, Serena fell just short of holding all four Grand Slam Championships in a calendar year.  Her treatment by many in the media and public for these accomplishments was an unfavorable comparison to Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner and American Pharaoh, a horse.    

Excepting those knowledgeable of current events, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi are not household names.  They are, however, the founders of Black Lives Matter (BLM), a movement that has blossomed into one of international consequence.  BLM is their reaction to the senseless and brutal interface common between Black people and the law enforcement community.  The tragedies of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and countless others give justification for the BLM movement.  

BLM has encountered unyielding backlash from that portion of the nation that de-values Black lives and seeks excuses to justify acts of brutality and injustice.  The movement started by these young women has generated greater public attention to the violence unjustly visited on the African American community and demands for institutional remedies.

Working quietly under the radar since her long-overdue confirmation is US Attorney General (AG), Loretta Lynch.  Her story of an eminently qualified public servant being denied confirmation as AG is well-know to the public.  It was a failed confirmation based upon political motivation, with the suggestion of a possible racial component in the manner of her confirmation process.  She’s the first African American woman who holds the position of AG.

Among the most high-profile cases to which she has had to respond are the Charleston Church Massacre, the Colorado Planned Parenthood Massacre and the San Bernardino Massacre.  She has acted professionally and without fanfare – the same way she has thus far served.  

Last, but not least, I must acknowledge our First Lady, Michelle Obama.  Anyone paying the least attention must honor her for assuming the role of “Mother of the Nation.”  Her work promoting proper nutrition and emphasizing a focus on education has been stellar.  For over seven years she has stood as an advocate for military families.  Arguably, she has been the most active FLOTUS in our history.

Although not all inclusive, these African American women stand as exemplars to the African American community and as models for our young women, and young women in general.  We close 2015 honoring these women and looking forward to their continuing influence in 2016 and beyond.  The greater challenge is for more of us to “Rise up, pick up our beds and follow.”
(Dr. E. Faye Williams can be reached at: www.nationalcongressbw.org. . or at: 202/678-6788)