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Sandra Bland's Family And Attorneys Speak To The Media In Illinois

Source: Joshua Lott / Getty

One of the saddest trends in this country is reacting to an ongoing issue, after a life has been lost.

Working to prevent this and address other issues facing young Black women, is the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, created by three congresswomen last March.

Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), and Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), founded the committee to create policy that improves the lives of Black women in America. On Wednesday the ladies were joined by ELLE magazine’s Melissa Harris-Perry, Beverly Bond of Black Girls Rock!, and Geneva Reed-Veal the mother of Sandra Bland for a symposium titled “Barriers and Pathways to Success for Black Women and Girls”.

Bland was the 28-year-old Hempstead, TX woman who was found dead in her cell last summer after being arrested for changing lanes without signaling and resisting arrest. To this day her mother doesn’t believe her daughter committed suicide while in jail.

As noted by ColorLines, Reed-Veal talked about the importance of speaking up for all of the women of color who die in prison and pushed those in attendance to take real action.

“The tears are real, the pain is real, the problem is real,” Reed-Veal said. “So, I don’t come here playing games with you all. I don’t come to sit and be a part of a caucus where we talk and do nothing. You, you, you, you don’t know my pain. God forbid you go up to another grieving mother and say you know how she feels, that is a lie. Unless you have lost a child. Am I angry? Absolutely. I’m not angry enough to create a riot where I burn things down, but I will create a riot, I will set off so that people will understand that this is real. Movements move. Activists activate. We have got to stop talking and move. So I leave you with this: it is time to wake up, get up, step up, or shut up.”

Go here for the full transcript of Reed-Veal’s speech.

“Many call it black girl magic because it seems we can do what no one else can or will do,” Harris-Perry said when she spoke.”We seem to bear burdens heavier, run races faster, and absorb brutality more stinging than ought to be possible given how few resources are at our disposal. The legacy of black women’s lives and labors show an unprecedented capacity to survive in hostile conditions. This is not magic. It is grinding work that exacts deep costs from black girls and women. Yes, black women have long made lemonade from the lemons life handed them. The problem is somebody usually sat down and drank it after she made it. That is not justice.”

Go here for the full transcript of Harris-Perry’s speech.

Powerful words from powerful women.

We’re excited to see what comes of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, and hope its work translates into policy.

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