When President Obama announced his My Brother's Keeper Initiative, the Black Women's Roundtable was present to witness this historic announcement during Black History Month. We remember vividly the air of excitement and anticipation that reverberated in the room, on social media and across the country.
So many of us were surprised to hear that there are some who believe that President Obama's My Brother's Keeper Initiative is too narrow because it does not focus on women and girls of color. While we respect their right to their opinion, we must respectfully disagree.
First, as a group of Black women who work daily to improve the lives of Black people, we see firsthand the systemic impact that targeted race and gender-based empowerment approaches have on our Black youth to live their best lives.
Second, on a personal level, as mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters, aunts and mentors of Black men and boys, we know well the positive impact fathers, father figures and mentors have on molding our male family members into being strong men and active fathers in their own children's lives.
We believe that the 100 Black Men of America, Inc.'s motto is right on target: What they see is what they will be. So we stand in solidarity with President Obama and thank him for having the bold vision to initiate My Brother's Keeper and actualize his commitment by investing resources to focus on improving the lives of Black men and boys.
So, on behalf of the Black Women's Roundtable that represents millions of Black women, mothers, aunts, wives and significant others, we salute President Obama for creating My Brother's Keeper. We believe it is not a flawed choice to focus on our Black men and boys.
While we fully agree that much work is needed to improve the lives of Black women and girls, we also know it is vitally important that the "My Brother's Keeper" Initiative stays focused on men and boys of color. Our Black men and boys are dying out of season on the streets of our nation every day. There is a "fierce urgency of now" that calls for decisive, targeted action to address this crisis in our community.
Further, President Obama recently released the My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Task Force Report that states the work of MBK will improve opportunity all young people and create opportunity for both boys and girls of all backgrounds. The MBK report states: "To ensure that all young Americans have the opportunities they need to reach their full potential, we must adopt approaches that empower all of our children with the tools to succeed as they move through key life stages."
Recently we released the BWR's "Black Women in the U. S. Report, 2014" that shows there is a critical need for more targeted public and private resources focused on Black women and girls. Therefore, we strongly encourage President Obama to invest more resources focused on women and girls of color through the White House Council on Women and Girls.
We believe My Brother's Keeper is a great Father's Day gift for Black children, girls of color and our families. So it is our hope that President Obama will not be distracted or disillusioned by the naysayers--because our children need the vision of My Brother's Keeper to be realized, so they can dream big dreams that will manifest into reality.
Melanie L. Campbell,President & CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation & Convener, Black Women's Roundtable
Bishop Allyson Abrams,Empowerment Liberation Cathedral
Monifa Bandele, MomsRising, Brooklyn, NY
Salandra Benton, Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation
Clayola Brown, A. Philip Randolph Institute
Latosha Brown, Truthspeaks Consulting, Atlanta, GA
Helen Butler, Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda
Waikinya Clanton, NOBEL Women
Karma Cottman, DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Edrea Davis, Dogon Village Productions
Felicia Davis, Building Green Initiative at Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA
Reverend Leah D. Daughtry, Black Women's Roundtable
Cynthia Downs-Taylor, Black Women's Roundtable, Tidewater, VA
Jotaka Eaddy, NAACP
Lisa Fager, Industry Ears
Vivica A. Fox, Actress/Producer, Foxy Brown Productions
Patricia Green, IC Linkages, LLC
Chanelle P. Hardy, Esq. , National Urban League Washington Bureau
Lisa Sharon Harper, SOJOURNERS
Nancy Harvin, Black Women's Roundtable
Patricia Hobson, Ph.D. , Black Women's Roundtable
Holli Holliday, Holliday Advisors, LLC
Janaye Ingram, National Action Network
Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook, Black Women's Roundtable
Carol Joyner, Labor Project for Working Families
Jacqueline LaRue Johnson-Parker, Gagne Parker CPAs
Mother Love, Mother Love Productions Talk Show Host, LATalkRadio.com
Adrienne King-McCorkle, Black Youth Vote! Alumni Group
Rev. Dr. Judith C. Moore, Greater Allen AME Church
Dr. Sandra Owens Lawson, Black Women's Roundtable
Judy Lubin, Black Women's Roundtable
The Honorable Stephanie Moore, City of Kalamazoo, MI
Claire Nelson, Ph.D, Institute of Caribbean Studies
Jamida Orange, Martin Luther King Jr. March Committee, Atlanta, GA
Kijafa Parker, Black Women's Roundtable
Shantel Pettigrew, Black Youth Vote! Intern, Howard University
Barbara Perkins, International Black Women's Public Policy Institute
Lisa Ransom, Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation
Rene Redwood, Redwood Enterprise
Delisa Saunders, PhD, American Federation of Teachers
Dr. Elsie L. Scott, Ronald W. Walters Leadership & Public Policy Center, Howard University
Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, Ph.D. , Center for Community & Economic Justice
Makeda Smith, Jazzmyne PR
Joycelyn Tate, Black Women's Roundtable
Adrianne Todman, DC Housing Authority
The Honorable Sheila Tyson, City Councilwoman, Birmingham, AL Advisor, Alabama Coalition on Black Civic Participation
Tonya Tyson, Black Women's Roundtable
A. Shuanise Washington, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Yvonne Wheeler, AFGE District 12 Long Beach, CA
Bishop Diana Williams, The World Conference of Mayors
Robin Williams, Civil Rights & Community Action, UFCW
Neely A. Williams, M.Div., Community Partners Network Nashville, TN
Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, National African American Clergy Network
**Affiliations are listed for information purposes full story and list at www.ncbcp.org