This week, I am honored to be recognized as the Woman of the Year for Assembly District 18 (AD18)! AD18 Assemblymember Rob Bonta selected me. As a result, I am joined into a very special “Girl’s Club” of amazing women from all over California. My new Club includes nurses and doctors and teachers and students, unionists and entrepreneurs and many other professions where women are making history. On March 6th, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus held a day-long celebration in Sacramento for all the Women of the Year.
We all stand on the shoulders of powerful sisters who went before us, most notably, the “Shero” of American politics, Shirley Chisholm.
Unbought and Unbossed
Shirley Chisholm was the original “giraffe.” She was not afraid to stick her neck out. By her courage and commitment to progress, we all advanced. She was the first Black woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress. in 1971, Chisholm was a founding member of both the Congressional Black Caucus as well as the National Women’s Political Caucus. Chisholm is the first black major-party candidate to run for President of the United States, in the 1972 U.S. presidential election. She is also the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
According to her World Biography, Chisholm became politically active with the Democratic Party in the 1940s. She quickly developed a reputation as a person who challenged the traditional roles of women, African Americans, and the poor. After a successful career as a teacher, Chisholm decided to run for the New York State Assembly. She served in the State Assembly until 1968, when she decided to run for the U.S. Congress. During the Vietnam War, Chisholm protested the amount of money being spent for the defense budget while social programs suffered.
Chisholm was a strong supporter of women’s rights. Early in her career as a congresswoman, she supported a woman’s right to choose. She spoke out against traditional roles for women professionals (including secretaries, teachers, and librarians). She argued that women were capable of entering many other professions. Black women especially, she felt, had been pushed into stereotypical roles, or conventional professions, such as maids and nannies.
Shirley Chisholm reported that “When I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black. Men are men.” In particular, she expressed frustration about the “black matriarch thing,” saying, “They think I am trying to take power from them. The black man must step forward, but that doesn’t mean the black woman must step back.”
Black Women In Politics Today
Black women have always stepped up in the Democratic Party. Donna Brazile, a Black woman from New Orleans just completed her term as the Acting Chair of the DNC. Moreover, Kimberly Ellis is a Black woman making a serious bid to become the Chair of the California Democratic Party in 2017.
Former Ohio Senator Nina Turner was one of the most visible and effective surrogates for Senator Bernie Sanders. She is an accomplished advocate for social justice in her own right. After the Democratic Party rejected (and disrespected) Bernie Sanders, there was an effort to draft Sen. Turner to run for Vice-President on the Green Party ticket or for Ohio Governor.
Our own Congresswoman Barbara Lee is one of the most respected and effective representatives this country has ever seen. It has always been my joy and honor to say “Barbara Lee Speaks for Me!”
We’ve Come A Long Way Baby
I am humbled and inspired to represent AD18 on the Democratic Party Central Committee. We now all know that it is an important time to serve in our local Democratic Party. I feel blessed to have found my way into the middle of the fray!
Many years ago, there was a commercial that tickled my father, David Price. I can still hear him saying “you’ve come a long way baby” with a big grin. Dad was the father of two daughters and the brother of 5 sisters. He was proud of the advances made by women in his lifetime.
On Monday, March 6th, I walked with 79 other amazing women through another door into history. As I walk forward, I know that my Lord has brought me “from a mighty long way.” As I continue to grow as a leader, I know that “to whom much is given, much is required.”