May 17, 2016
April 28, 2016
I want to thank Representatives Bonnie Watson-Coleman, Robin Kelly and Yvette Clarke and the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.
My name is Marcela Howell and I am the founder and executive director for In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda
In Our Own Voice was created in November 2014 as a national Reproductive Justice policy organization to increase the visibility of Black women and girls at the national and state levels in our ongoing policy fight to secure Reproductive Justice for all women and girls. Ours is a national-state partnership with seven Black women’s organizations: Black Women for Wellness in California, Black Women’s Health Imperative a national organization, New Voices for Reproductive Justice in Pennsylvania and Ohio, SisterLove, Inc., in Georgia, Sister Reach in Tennessee, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW in Georgia and Women with a Vision in Louisiana.
In Our Own Voice provides an opportunity to have Black women and girls speak for ourselves and present a proactive strategy to advance reproductive health, rights and justice, including the right to safe and legal abortions, contraceptive equity and comprehensive sex education.
Distinguished committee, we applaud your leadership in recognizing the need to lift up Black women and girls. It brings to mind a quote from 1892 said by Anna Julia Cooper, a Black suffrage advocate, “Only the Black woman can say when and where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole…race enters with me.”
Black women have always led. Often we were the only ones decrying injustices against us, our families, our communities and in the Diaspora. Indeed, It is this spirit that birthed the Reproductive Justice movement.
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