“Even though 1,000 people showed up last year, we’ve had contact with over 2,000 predominantly Black women across the state of Florida, that think Black women should be prioritized,” said Jasmen Rogers-Shaw, gender justice coordinator for Miami Workers Center.
Van Buren: What is the Florida March For Black Women?
Rogers: In September of last year, there was a National call from the Black Women’s Blueprint, which is headed in New York calling women around the country to host Marches for Black Women. What we’ve come to realize is that, there are spaces that prioritize women, there are spaces that prioritize Black men, but there aren’t any spaces that cumulatively and intentionally uplift Black Women.
They were asking us to designate a space, plan a day, a march, a rally, or an event where Black women and their power is uplifted; acknowledging and showing the country that we’re a force to be reckoned with. Our Florida March for Black women has a political component. We talk about how Black women are the most progressive, the most reliable voting group in the country and yet no one is really trying to hear us out or cater to our needs.
Van Buren: What is the purpose of the Florida March For Black Women?
Rogers: We wrote a manifesto that talked about how on so many indicators Black women are at the bottom. Whether you’re talking about health, maternal mortality, violence, murder all these different things Black women are suffering from and no one really seems to be paying attention, unless you’re a Black woman.
We also made a list of demands. What would it look like for us to live freely and asserted that when Black women win, we all win. If Black women are being paid equitably that raises the pay for everybody to be paid equitably. If we talk about more representation in all levels of government that means that everybody gets represented.
We talk about finding ways to decrease murder and violence against Black women. If violence against Black women goes down, violence against everyone goes down. We found it to be such a healing space last year. Close to 1,000 people showed up from across the state of Florida. We knew that we had to do it annually offering this as a space where our blackness and our womaness simultaneously is uplifted and celebrated.
Van Buren: What was the response from last year’s Florida March for Black Women?
Rogers: There were plenty of people that said this was the most organized march. Others commented on how we thought of everything. We provided security, we had medics on hand, we offered snacks and water, we had vans for the disabled, we also had sign language and interpreters communicating in various languages. All of these things we thought of transformed the ways that people think about how they organize events and the way that Black women take care of each other.
Van Buren: What’s next on the agenda?
Rogers: Even though 1,000 people showed up last year we knew the march could only get us so far. So, we took about 50 Black girls from South Florida up to the Florida State Capital during the Florida Legislative session earlier this year. We held a press conference in the capitol to talk about how legislation, laws and the lack of representation can impact Black women and girls in the state of Florida. We were able to build relationships with the Black women legislators that felt like they were also being left out of the conversation.
Van Buren: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Rogers: Even for me as a person and for so many other people this has been transformational for the reasons it was developed. You can hardly find a space that can prioritize Black women not just our Blackness, not just our womaness but Black women and all of the unique things that we go through. I’m really excited to be in this fight and doing this work on behalf of all Black women.
Van Buren: Is it too late to get involved?
Rogers: It’s not too late to get involved. We still have a week and a half before it’s time to get going. We still need volunteers and people to help with outreach. People interested in connecting and or helping out can do so by visiting the 2018 Florida March for Black Women page on Facebook or by contacting Jasmen Rogers-Shaw by email Jasmen@theworkerscenter.org
The 2018 Florida March For Black Women is scheduled for Saturday, November 3rd. at 10 AM in Miami at the Little Haiti Culture Complex located at 212 NE 59th Terrace Miami, Florida 33137.
For Broward residents the Florida March For Black Women starts at the Old Dillard Museum located at 1009 NW 4th St. Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311.