Recent stories surrounding National Football League (NFL) player Ray Rice have not only focused national attention on domestic violence, but have caused a public and community outcry regarding diversity, fairness, and representation within the NFL. Following a mid-September announcement by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to create an all-women advisory board to aid the organization in addressing the issue within its teams, the Black Women’s Roundtable sounded the alarm in opposition.

If their press conference, held in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 44th Annual Legislative Conference on Sept. 24, is any indication of the breadth and depth of their movement, they are not backing down. “The fact that not one of the women experts appointed to the advisory board was Black is totally unacceptable,” exclaimed Melanie Campbell, president and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the roundtable at the press conference. “Nearly 70 percent of the NFL players are Black and most of the victims are Black women and children. Clearly, Black women understand the social construct and cultural sensitivities of the victims as well as the young players from our community and can advise the NFL accordingly.”

Following Campbell’s comments, representatives of the roundtable’s member organizations each walked up to the podium one-by-one to express their support and solidarity. Attendees included: Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, Ph.D., Incite Unlimited LLC; Chanelle Hardy, National Urban League; Janaye Ingram, National Action Network; Teresa Younger, president, Ms. Foundation for Women; Waikinya Clanton, National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (NOBEL Women); Pam Meanes, National Bar Association; and Elsie Scott, PhD., Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center.

The purpose of the press conference was to highlight domestic abuse within the Black community, and request an emergency meeting with Goodell. During the event, information from a March 2014 research report on Black women and their families was presented. According to their research, Black women:

* Aare the most likely group of women in America to experience domestic violence;

* Are nearly three times as likely to die as a result of domestic violence than white women;

* Are only 8 percent of the population, yet 22 percent of the homicides that result from domestic violence.

D.C.’s Coalition Against Domestic Violence was also represented at the event. “The NFL’s advisory team must include Black women with a demonstrated expertise in the development and implementation of culturally specific services, policies, and programs addressing domestic violence and sexual assault in the Black community, “ said Karma Cottman, executive director of the coalition. “They must also include domestic and sexual violence organizations that are by and for the Black community.”

NFL executives answered the call by holding a meeting with members of the roundtable on Oct. 1 in New York City. Members and national Black female leaders such as U.S. Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY), and NOBEL Women National President, Alabama State Rep. Laura Hall were in attendance. Commissioner Goodall was not in attendance. Though described as productive in an organization press release, BWR will continue to push for a meeting with the Commissioner which should occur in the next 30 – 45 days.