April Ryan Moderates NAACP Call-to-Action with special guests Sheryl Lee Ralph, Sybrina Fulton, and other dynamic women in the movement
BALTIMORE (March 19, 2020) — This Women’s History Month, the NAACP hosted its monthly Call-to-Action program on the Women in the Movement hosted by White House correspondent and author, April Ryan, with several special guests, including actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, American actress, singer, author, and activist; Karen Boykin-Towns, Vice-Chair, NAACP National Board of Directors; Jamira Burley, Activist and Social Impact Strategist; Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood; Leslie Redmond, President, NAACP Minneapolis; and Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin.
The hour-long program allowed listeners to not only hear from black women who are on the forefront of making racial and gender equality real, but also learn how they can join the fight. It is evident, through discussion, Black women are leading the charge in pushing our country toward equity and equality for all.
The call opened with Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, bringing greetings and highlighting the importance of women in the Movement as we navigate through a time of crisis as a nation. He stated, “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I am sure that there is no stronger element on earth than black women.”
President Johnson introduced April Ryan to facilitate the discussion. “I am the daughter of a woman, the granddaughter of a woman, and the mother of two up-and-coming women, so this call tonight is so important,” she said. “I think about women in the movement being powerful, and what power there is in women who serve for others.”
Karen Boykin-Towns, Vice-Chair of the NAACP National Board of Directors, shared the quote, “a strong woman stands up for herself, a stronger woman stands up for everybody else.” She ended her introduction by saying that “power is diverse. She isn’t just Michelle Obama, Wonder Woman, Beyonce, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, or even Marsai Martin. Powerful women come in all forms, and all of us are needed to show up in this world.”
Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph opened her statement by asking, “How wonderful is it to be in a time where women are not only recognized, but women recognize their own value? For a very long time, that has not been the case.” She spoke of a time when a woman who used her voice to speak up for herself, was a woman that others wanted to shut up. “So I am happy where we are now at a moment where the voice of a woman is heard.”
Activist and Social Impact Strategist Jamira Burley said, “Black women have always been making change even at very young ages. If there are young people on the line wondering how they can get engaged, it is important to recognize there is no age requirement to change the world.”
Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood acting president and CEO, enforced the sentiment that “Our service is our power. When we use our platforms wherever we are and our commitment to empowering others, it will build up a force for good.” She went on to say, “being unapologetic about how we empower our community is what makes us powerful.”
Leslie Redmond, president of the NAACP Minneapolis Branch, spoke of women getting things done by stating, “We don’t complain. We activate. We make lemonade out of lemons. We uplift one another and most importantly we are never silent when it matters the most.”
April took a second to remind listeners that all women of the Movement are not necessarily just the women who led the marches, “But it’s also those women from the South, or from the North, or from the East, or from the West who gave up their beds for people in those marchers, who went in the field and picked tomatoes for those marching to eat. “It’s not always about being in front, sometimes we need to lead from the back.”
Mother of Trayvon Martin and social justice activist Sybrina Fulton was a surprise guest on the call. When asked by April how does it feel to be a black woman leading through this time, she said, “I came from a long line of strong black women. It is what I saw, and I just mimic what they [my mother and grandmother] did. She spoke on being your own cheerleader by saying, “We all fall sometimes, the difference is you have to encourage yourself. When everybody goes home, and all the cameras are down, when everyone has left you, you have to encourage yourself.
The call closed with April Ryan asking each woman to finish the sentence: women are most powerful when…
“Women are most powerful when we show up and come together and when we speak up for ourselves and speak out for what we know is right.” -Karen Boykin-Towns
“Women are most powerful when we show ourselves authentically rocking braids and Jordans.” -Jamira Burley
“Women are most powerful when we control our bodies and when we have the freedom to imagine who we want to be.” -Alexis McGill Johnson
“Women are most powerful when don’t complain, activate” -Leslie Redmond
“Women are most powerful when we look at the words of late Congresswoman Shirley Chisolm… ‘If we don’t have a seat at the table, we bring a folding chair.’ When we bring our folding chair, and we’re sitting at the table, we need to learn the game so we can play the game, so we can start owning the game.” -April Ryan
More information on how you can empower or join the women of the Movement can be found at naacp.org.