The Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR), an initiative of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, released a new report on the state of black women during their third annual BWR National Women of Power Summit–Amplifying the Voices of Women and Girls in the Digital Age!–taking place March 27-29 in Washington, DC. Black Women in the United States, examines both the tremendous progress and challenges facing African American women since key historical markers such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Brown v. Board of Education, and the onset of the War on Poverty. In the introduction, the authors state:
Despite our challenges though, there is much good news to share about Black women’s health. Overall, our life expectancy continues to rise, while teenaged pregnancy rates have dropped dramatically. And most recently, the rate of HIV infection among Black women has fallen tremendously, down over 20 percent in just two years’ time.
All and all, the state of Black women’s health is both tragic and triumphant. Though in many respects, we continue to struggle, somehow, some way, in the words of Maya Angelou, still, we rise.
Below are some key findings from the report on the progress of black women, and recommendations for shaping the future public policy agenda:
A few findings:
- Black girls’ out-of-school suspension rate is 6 times higher than that of white girls.
- Black girls are 3 times more likely to attend schools that do not offer a full range of college prep courses.
- Black women are the fastest growing segment of the women-owned business market, yet trail other women in generating revenue.
- Black women led all demographic groups in voter turnout in recent elections (including the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race without President Obama on the ticket), but hold only 3% of state legislative seats and less than 3% of seats in Congress.
- Targeted jobs creation and high-tech skills training.
- Update Sections 4 & 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
- Pass comprehensive Immigration Reform.
- Increase federal minimum wage to at least $10.10, pass the Healthy Families Act, Paycheck Fairness, Paid Family and Medical Leave, Equal Pay and Minimum wage.
- Reproductive justice.
Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist at the Joint Center.