In the 160 years since abolitionist Sojourner Truth gave her “Ain’t I a Woman” speech, the mission for Black women still remains the same, said political commentator and attorney, Angela Rye.
She offered a contemporary version of the “Ain’t I a Woman” speech at a women’s convention, but this time in Fort Lauderdale Beach on Sunday, calling attention to the recent criticisms of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Army widow Myeisha Johnson
Rye referred to Donald Trump, as a president who ran his political campaign on sexism and racism. She wondered how Truth, the late civil rights and women’s rights activist, would advise women in the current state of politics.
“Your president Donald J. Trump ran a campaign that belittled the efforts of women and communities of color,” said Rye. “You have a Commander-in-Chief who bragged about sexually assaulting women, literally grabbing them by the vajayjay.”
Rye and Truth both urged women to flex their political muscle. Truth delivered her speech on May 29, 1851, at a convention in Akron, Ohio. Rye delivered the 2017 version at the Spirit of Sisterhood Breakfast to close the Women of Color Empowerment Conference at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort.
Rye is the principal and CEO of Impact Strategies, a political advocacy firm, and she also serves as the executive director and general counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress.
Truth demanded that men in power give women the opportunity to continue to make a difference in this society. Similarly, Rye said, urged the Trump administration to not cut off programs that let women control their reproductive rights.
Rye said the current administration has ended former First Lady Michelle Obama’s international education development program, “Let Girls Learn,” which helps provide education for adolescent girls and has limited access to birth control in his effort to defund Planned Parenthood.
“Don’t I have the right to learn? Don’t I have the right to decide what’s right for my body?” Rye asked. “And ain’t I a woman?”
The current administration has also tried to stifle our voices, said Rye, pointing to a comment by White House Chief of Staff John Kelley, who called Wilson an “empty barrel.”
Rye also accused Trump of making insensitive remarks to Johnson, the grieving widow of a Miami Gardens special forces soldier who was killed in Niger.
“Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a woman who has dedicated her life to serving young people, mentoring young boys to ensure that they have what they need to go forward to be successful,” said Rye. “Ain’t I mentor, ain’t I a woman?’
Local elected officials Brenda Snipes, Broward County supervisor of elections and Felicia Robinson, Miami Gardens councilwoman were also in attendance.
Snipes is an advisory board member of the Women of Color Empowerment Institute Inc., the non-profit organization who hosted the event for the seventh time. WOCEI is focused on increasing leadership opportunities for WOCs, mentorship and addressing public issues that affect the group.
“I thought her subject matter covered the theme of the conference well,” said Snipes. “She covered the significance and the importance of women empowerment.
The theme of the conference was “Charting Your Own, High Risk, High Rewards,” it also included a comedy night and an eight-hour summit with Black female leaders including Miami Gardens police chief, Chief Delma Noel-Pratt and award-winning journalist Tamron Hall, who was the keynote speaker.