Black women’s experiences in politics were examined at a N.C. Central University Tuesday, March 21.
The Dan Blue symposium, hosted by Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, was to examine the roles Black women play as they advocate for change, human rights, and sustaining their communities in both Brazil and the United States, according to the Eventbrite description.
The symposium was titled in honor of N.C. Senator Daniel Terry Blue Jr., who represents the state’s 14th Senate district and is an alumnus of NCCU.
In “The Pathway to Becoming a Judge,” Josephine Davis spoke about her road to becoming a judge. Davis majored in mass communication and graduated in 2003 from N.C. A&T where she knew she wanted to work with media and law because she idolized Star Jones’ coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial. She said she was inspired to do something similar in her career.
Davis then attended NCCU to earn her law degree, and soon after she decided to run for the superior court judge’s position.
“I knew that judges’ had power,” said Davis. “These are things that I feel like my degree built me for, so I decided to run for the judge’s seat”.
In running for the judge’s seat, Davis tapped into her many networks via her sorority and through Jack and Jill, Inc. According to Davis people said they just wanted to see some form of change.
“It’s not an easy road being a Black woman in politics,” said Davis. “There are those stumbling blocks wherever you go. I still have to understand and navigate the political world.”
In “Black Women & Politics in Rio De Janeiro,” Monica Cunha, speaking in Portuguese with a translator, spoke about her own role as a community advocate and activist.
Cunha became a city councilwoman in her home city of Rio De Janeiro in 2022. In her presentation, Cunha spoke about her childhood education and how racial prejudice in Brazil was never a topic of study.
“I only began to identify as a Black woman when I went to college and learned about race and racial systems,” said Cunha.
In 2003, Cunha formed the Nonprofit Government Organization (NGO), Movimento Moleque, composed of mothers whose children have been threatened, attacked or killed by the police.
She formed the organization after her 15-year-old son, Rafael da Silva Cunha, was arrested for robbery. After three years he was released from prison, but he was shot and killed by police.
“On 5 December 2006, when they laid my son’s bullet-ridden body on the ground in front of me, that Rafael was no longer my Rafael,” said Cunha. “He was transformed in the five years he was inside the system”.
Movimento Moleque is a part of a larger NGO called the Network of Communities Against Violence.
Other panelists included Mayor Elaine O’Neal who spoke on the challenges and successes of Black women and electoral politics, Dr. Sharrelle Barber who spoke on Black women’s transactional activism, Dr. Dalila Negreiros who spoke on Black women and political participation in Brazil, Vilma Reis who spoke on Black women’s activism in Salvador, Bahia , Dr. Ashley Daniels who spoke on Black sororities and political participation, and Gladys Mitchell-Walthour who spoke on Black women social welfare beneficiaries and the politics of survival.