President Obama on Saturday dedicated his keynote speech at the Phoenix Awards — a banquet to culminate the 45th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference — to the sacrifices Black women have historically made to advance this great nation, even without much recognition.
In a speech that called for equal pay, fair policing and criminal justice reform, Obama framed the conversation around how these injustices affect Black women specifically, noting that women of color still get paid “30 fewer cents for every dollar a White man earns.”
“We’ve got to do more than say…we’d put a woman on the ten dollar bill,” Obama said, calling the wage gap a “mockery of our economy” before declaring that, while the $10 campaign is nice, America needs to make strides to ensure that Black women are earning those same dollars.
Noting that Black women were integral in every civil rights movement, including suffrage and feminism, the president discussed his decision to highlight Black women as an effort to quiet the voices telling them they aren’t “good enough.”
“Women were the foot soldiers. They strategized boycotts. Organized marches,” he said. “All of us are the beneficiaries of a long line of strong black women who helped carry our country. It’s thanks to black women that we’ve come a long way since the days when a girl like Ruby Bridges couldn’t go to school…Black women have been a part of every great movement in American history. Even if they weren’t always given a voice.”
“I’m focusing on women tonight because I want them to know how much we appreciate them, how much we admire them, how much we love them,” he added.
But with praise came an acknowledgement that poverty, inequalities in the justice system and a large wage gap affect women of color at disproportionate rates. And in an unprecedented move as a sitting president, Obama made a clear delineation to explain how the sexual assault of Black women and girls often fuels the prison pipeline, stating that “the incarceration rate for Black women is twice as high as the rate for White women.”
Here, NewsOne has gathered some of the president’s most powerful statements on the empowerment and celebration of Black women.
The CBCF’s Annual Legislative Conference gathers members of the Congressional Black Caucus and others interested in politics and policy to Washington, D.C. each year for several days of meetings, panel discussions, and celebrations. The anticipated Phoenix Award’s was created to celebrate the accomplishments of those working to uplift the African-American community.
Stay tuned to NewsOne.com for more exclusive videos featuring interviews with representatives, celebrities and activists about the Black Lives Matter movement, economic empowerment, policy change, education and the school to prison pipeline.
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