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"Black women deserve a voice in a policy making process that frequently minimizes, or altogether ignores the systemic challenges they face."
- Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman


Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Robin L. Kelly (D-IL) and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
Co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women & Girls

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This is Bonnie Watson Coleman, Robin L. Kelly and Yvette D. Clarke – co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus of Black Women and Girls. Since our founding, the three of us and our now 25 members have remained committed to the caucus' mission of creating public policy solutions that seek to eliminate significant barriers and disparities that affect Black women and girls.

Over the past year, 
we’ve advised on legislation, hosted round tables, panel discussions, and uplifted events across the country that have brought together hundreds of people dedicated to the work we do, in the name of progress and equity. Sadly, under the Trump Administration, we are witnessing an all-out assault on civil rights, women’s rights, voting rights and a rapid acceleration of mass incarceration. That said, we are more determined than ever to ensure that your voices are heard here in Congress.

We've created this newsletter in order to keep you abreast of the work that the caucus is conducting, upcoming events, and how you can get involved! As we go into the holiday season, and what seems like chaos here in Congress, we hope this Caucus serves as reassurance that the experiences of Black women and girls in America are always being considered and fought for here in the nation’s capital.

 You can follow us on social media!
Instagram: @CBWGCaucus
Twitter: @CBWGCaucus
Facebook: @CBWGCaucus

Our Work Thus Far
Where are our girls?
Convening on Missing Black Women & Girls Nationwide

Panelists at the convening on Missing Black Women and Girls nationwide
In April, we hosted a convening surrounding the thousands of missing children and women of color across the country. Caucus members, advocates, and law enforcement representatives addressed the many structural and institutional components contributing to this national issue, including economic disadvantages and/or poverty in communities of color, disparate treatment of missing Black women and girls by law enforcement, and lack of public awareness or response.

The convening consisted of two panels focused on fact-finding and best practices, respectively, where panelists helped inform and advise CBWG members, members of Congress and participants on the intricacies of this issue in order to help push forward proposals that will work to reconcile this disparity. We were pleased to have Angela Rye as our moderator and honored that Democratic House Leader Pelosi delivered remarks.  

Raise your voice, be heard!
1st Inaugural '& Girls' Conference

 Rep. Watson Coleman with attendees of the '&Girls' Conference 

Over 400 girls gathered at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, NJ  for the inaugural '&Girls' Conference

From the media, to our schools, to our judicial system-essentially, everywhere a Black girl turns; she is met with messages that suggest she is less. Those messages could not be further from the truth, and despite significant setbacks, she can, and often does succeed. She is a leader and with a support system, she is unstoppable.

On April 1, 2017, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman held the inaugural '&Girls' conference in New Jersey's 12th Congressional district. Over 400 girls ranging from 10 to 23 years of age gathered together to form an intellectual inventory of their challenges and thoughts on their standing in America. Girls discussed issues of racial identity, safety, what it means to be successful, and tools they need to become the leaders of tomorrow.  

Black women drive economic growth
Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Forum

Rep. Clarke and Rep. Kelly with Yandy Smith-Harris at an event  in NYC to mobilize Black female entrepreneurship

As Black women become a larger percentage of the population, advance in educational attainment, and entrepreneurship - so does their impact on our nation’s economy. In May, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke hosted a community forum in Brooklyn for women who are rising entrepreneurs and small business owners. The forum brought together industry experts, government representatives, and small business owners, which included television personality and media mogul Yandy Smith-Harris. Attendees were provided mentorship through speed networking, resume workshops and shared best practices about opening and growing their own business.

Owning our voice and our representation
Black Women in Media Roundtable

Rep. Clarke with bloggers, activists and media influencers

It can be exhausting and troubling to see the continued negative perceptions of Black women perpetuated by mainstream the media. This sad reality in turn prompted and propelled black-owned and targeted media to become the go-to for our communities. In the spring, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke hosted a roundtable discussion in New York City with bloggers, activists, and other media influencers to discuss critical issues facing black women and girls and the media’s role in telling our unique and authentic stories.

Am I my sister’s keeper?
Trafficking and Sexual Violence Symposium

Rep. Kelly speaking on the systematic ways Black girls are lured into sexual exploitation

Thousands of girls around the nation fall victim to sexual abuse every year. What's more is that Black girls are just as likely to become victims of sexual exploitation, as they are to be criminalized for violent acts perpetrated against them. In February, Congresswoman Robin L. Kelly hosted the Trafficking and Sexual Violence Symposium: Am I My Sister’s Keeper?  The Chicago event exposed how common it is for young Black females to be sexually exploited and discussed efforts to identify and confront biases within our educational, social, health and criminal justice systems that may lead to their victimization.

What makes black girls blue?
A Congressional Conversation on Creating Mental Wellness Climates for Black Women & Girls

Chirlane McCray, First Lady of NYC, highlighting the efforts taking place in NYC to increase access to mental health services  

Studies have shown that Black communities experience higher rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, typically as a result of past trauma, stress, and the effects of poverty. Stereotypical views of mental health can discourage people, particularly Black women, from getting the help they need.

Congresswoman Robin L. Kelly led a briefing in March on Capitol Hill featuring some of the nation’s mental health thought leaders, advocates, providers, researchers, everyday Black women, and their allies. Panelists discussed the social, economic, cultural, and political elements which contribute to, or detract from, the mental wellness of Black women and girls. The Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls was honored to receive remarks from Chirlane McCray, the First Lady of New York City and Leader of the Cities Thrive Coalition.

Making sure you're seen
Other actions we've taken in Congress


  • In May, we joined a letter with other elected officials, Black women activists, civic and community leaders to Democratic National Committee Chair, Tom Perez, urging the DNC to recognize Black women's leadership in civic engagement and as a strong voting block that has swayed key elections. We requested that the DNC invest in Black women voters and form a Black women leaders convening. In response, Chairman Perez met with the group and pledged that the DNC will fully embrace, encourage and find innovative ways to empower black women on every level and platform. Moving forward he will make clear the party's commitment to ensuring our voices are heard.
  • In May, CBWG cofounders and women of the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter of support to Deanna and Mya Cook of Malden, Massachusetts, who were given detention with a threat of suspension for wearing braids - a hairstyle the school deemed inappropriate. In addition, Rep. Watson Coleman penned an op-ed to highlight that exclusionary student discipline practices obstruct access to education and perpetuate the school to prison pipeline.

  • In October, we joined the women of the Congressional Black Caucus to demand that Congresswoman Frederica Wilson receive an apology from President Trump and his staff for their racist and sexist comments, in their attempt challenge her integrity. Rep. Watson Coleman also sent a letter to women's organizations, urging them to stand in solidarity with Congresswoman Wilson. An attack on women who speak up, show up, and fight in the pursuit of justice, is an attack on all of us.

What's Next for the Caucus?

 Upcoming Events

Leading from the Black: How we lead even when ignored
Join us for a roundtable discussion on the issues that Black women have long been leaders, those that continue to impact us and how we continue that advocacy with a Trump presidency. Topics include civic engagement, education, entrepreneurship, health care and sexual harassment.

December 13, 2017
2168 Rayburn House Building
RSVP here


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