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National Commentary

Rise Up Ye Women

Black women have long understood the vineyard would fail without us. We’ve always been about the business of protecting and prospering our people. We’ve never allowed the vineyard to fail without our putting up our very best fight. Our struggles have been reaping rewards as we’ve understood the importance of our working together for the greater good of our community. As Dr. Dorothy Irene Height would say, “We Black women don’t always get to do what we want to do, but we always do what we have to do.”

I’m so proud of the accomplishments of Black women, and we just keep on getting up and doing even greater things despite the troubles that so often get in our way. We work in accordance with our family values daily. We’ve signed those petitions, raised our voices, been on those picket lines, voted in great numbers when others have tried to crush our efforts. We care about numerous issues, including the children of our immigrant brothers and sisters. Black women Members of Congress are standing their ground on the issue.

We vote on the right side in every election. When we can’t get the best, we vote together for the lesser of two evils. We attend meetings and are never afraid to stand up and speak out when others try to crush our voices.

We’re never afraid of finding ways to get our message heard. I marvel at the courage of the sister who scaled the Statue of Liberty to protest the treatment of babies whose parents were simply seeking a better life for their families.

I’m proud of Theresa Patricia Okoumou who scaled the wall of the statue for family values. Many would consider her action too dangerous to try, but as Black women, we have often had to do dangerous things. That is our history. Danger has never got in our way of doing what is right. She didn’t wait for the approval of anybody. She did what she felt had to be done.

If the Rise and Resist banner had been the only action, few would’ve known about an action against what’s happening at the U.S border regarding the separation and action against babies whose parents were simply trying to make America live up to its so-called welcoming arms.

Her courageous act surely motivated others to get involved. To those who would criticize her, if you care so much about the children, go and find another way to influence resolution of putting children back with their families.

Surely doing nothing is not the answer.

President Theodore Roosevelt said:
“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds;….who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Hers was an inspiring act of disobedience in the spirit of Amelia Boynton, Rep. John Lewis, Dick Gregory, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Dr. Martin Luther King and as so many did in their work for justice. She’s one more Black woman who has taken an amazing action to support what she believes is right.


Dr. E. Faye Williams, President of the National Congress of Black Women and host of Wake Up and Stay Woke on WPFW-FM 89.3. 202/678-6788.

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