Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) recently held an event inviting women to join the organization, which seeks to motivate, support and educate African American women about the political process.
BWOPA was founded in 1968 after a group of 12 women organized to raise funds for Ron Dellums’ election campaign for Congress. Now, 46 years later, the organization has grown both in numbers and political capital and is encouraging more African American women to become actively involved in the political arena.
“We have to make sure that we’re connected and reaching out,” said Dezie Woods Jones, BWOPA State President, at the event held Tuesday at the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC).
One of the founders of BWOPA, Woods Jones worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the Civil Rights Movement. She says women wanted to be, and should be, at the table weighing in on policy-making decisions and other issues.
“What we realized was that women were not having a voice,” she said. “When powerful decisions are being made, we don’t want to just be folding the papers for handouts and distributing literature. We want to be at the table to make decisions about our lives and our families’ lives.”
Through its local chapters – in Oakland, Richmond, Hayward, Fresno, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Stockton – the statewide organization empowers women to pursue leadership positions and run for public office, to understand that politics is part of everything they do.
“Whether you’re in the church house, or in the health house, or education, somebody’s making decisions about your life; look at the health care issues we’re dealing with now, the job training issues,” said Woods Jones.
“If you’re not part of structuring that and making those decisions, then you’re reacting to something somebody else is making for you,” she continued.
As the newly appointed president of the Oakland/Bay Area chapter, Kimberly Mayfield Lynch shared her vision for the local BWOPA chapter and expressed a need to diversify the teaching force.
For information or to become a member of BWOPA, visit www.bwopa.org.