The National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc., Oakland Bay Area Chapter (NCBW-OBAC) held their 21st annual Madam C.J. Walker Luncheon and Empowerment Forum at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis on April 19.
Themed “Cultivating Our Legacy: Intentionally Building Our Future,” the event featured keynote speaker White House Correspondent April Ryan.
Ryan acknowledged the many influences that shaped her. From the legacies of Madam C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire, and Shirley Chisholm, the first woman to run for president, to Huey Newton of the Black Panthers, Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey.
“Madam C.J. Walker was a pillar of strength for all of us,” she said.
Ryan, who has covered the White House for more thantwo decades, garnered much attention when Pres. Donald Trump refused to allow her to ask a question about voter suppression and told her to sit down during a White House press conference.
His blatant disrespect of the seasoned journalist caused a media storm because the issue of voter suppression was fully relevant.
A day prior to the luncheon the results of the Mueller Investigation flooded the press and showed that Sarah Huckabee Sanders misled reporters during a May 2017 daily press briefing shortly after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey
Ryan did not hold back. “Sarah Huckabee is a liar and the apprentice that needs to go.”
“Where is your dis-ease (with the status quo)?”
Ryan shared her dis-ease with Blacks having the highest disparities in the nation and asserted that Stacey Abrams should have become Georgia’s governor.
None of the Trump administration’s antics will cause her to cower.
“My parents raised me to be a catalyst for change.”
Ryan said the voter irregularities after the mid-term election, voter suppression throughout the country and the lack of a federal anti-lynching law in 2019 should cause everyone to be concerned. “What is old is not new. Shirley Chisholm, who ran for president in 1972, said; “If you don’t have a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
And as Iyanla Vanzant says; “Am I my brother’s keeper? No I am my brother.”
Ryan implored the more than 1,000 powerful women in the room to harness their talent and resources. “Don’t be afraid to scrape your red bottoms,” as she referred to the $1,000 Christian Louboutin red-soled shoes sported by affluent professional women.
Luncheon honorees included Valerie Lewis – assistant vice president and assostant secretary at Safeway Inc.- who waved her red-bottom shoes in the air to show Ryan that they were scuffed.
The Advocacy Award was presented to Tomiquia Moss – CEO of Hamilton Families- who thanked her grandmother and the Pioneer Award was presented to Morgan DeBaun – CEO and Founder of Blavity.
Honoree Dorian Webb, a jewelry designer, quoted Shakespeare; “They tread on gems beneath their feet.” Supporting the quote, Webb explained that African Americans are oftentimes denigrated or ignored. “It’s time to realize we are the gems and magic happens when we work collectively.”
Teenagers Jasmine Edwards and Zoei Brown, the 2019 Positive Steps Mentoring Program Essay contest winners took the podium and inspired everyone as they ensured the future of Black girl magic. “We are the Black girls that know their worth and won’t be taken for granted,” said Edwards.
“My Aunt Carolyn Downs, a founding member of the Black Panthers of Seattle, is an unknown. But she is my inspiration and I will tell her story,” said Brown.
Song and dance were a highlight of the conference featuring vocalist Mykah Montgomery and Heat Dance Studio.