Black Women’s Roundtable Convenor Melanie Campbell was one of the panelists who told an audience of 200 that America is in an emergency. Others pictured are Barbara Arnwine of the Transformative Justice Coalition and Janice Mathis of the National Council of Negro Women. PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire.

Originally reported:
By Hamil R. Harris

(Trice Edney Wire) – Black women leaders of national civil rights and voting rights organizations have gathered at the National Press Club in Washington DC to declare “America in Emergency,” at a time when conservative lawmakers continued to dismantle decades of Civil Rights gains.

In several Southern states, certain books by Black authors have been banned; diversity, equity, and inclusion programs are being eliminated, and judges appointed by former President Donald Trump continue to gut Voting Rights laws.

“It is unbelievable what is happening in Florida,” said former U.S. Rep Corine Brown (D-Flo.) who served in Congress for 26 years. “You can’t teach diversity in Florida; we have a million people [taken off the rolls] who can’t vote. What can you do?”

Brown, speaking from the audience during the town hall portion of the annual Stateswomen for Justice Luncheon, was recognized by Dr. Julianne Malveaux, an economist, author, and former President of Bennett College for Women, who moderated this year’s event in celebration of Women’s History Month and the 197th anniversary of the Black Press.

Veteran Journalist Hazel Trice Edney, president/CEO of Trice Edney Communications and Editor-in-chief of the Trice Edney News Wire, has hosted the event that has taken place for the last 12 years at the National Press Club.

Malveaux said the time couldn’t be more urgent. “What do we do in an emergency ?” Malveaux asked the audience of 200 women and men. “Sometimes we call 9-11, But then we react. We have to vote like it’s an emergency.”

Rev. Benjamin Chavis, a veteran Civil Rights activist and president/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, implied that Black people have always risen to the occasion when attacked with injustices.

“We have been in emergencies before for 500 years,” said Chavis. “The transatlantic slave trade was an emergency, But God has blessed us. We are not a cursed people; we are a blessed people.”

Melanie Campbell, President/CEO of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation and convenor of the Black Women’s Roundtable, said,” It is time for us to take action because It is clear that the attack on Black people has a laser focus on the attack against Black women.”

Campbell added, “We will not allow them to divide us. We have to own our collective power. They are real serious about erasing our history.”

Barbara Arnwine, the President/CEO of the Transformative Justice Coalition, talked about a lynching in Brunswick, Georgia, and said, “When they kill our children, murder them for just being Black, after all this, folks, we have work to do!”

Arnwine was referring to the fact that lawyers representing the three white men who ran down and killed Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged have asked the US Court of Appeals to throw out the case.

“Folks, there is nothing we can say right now,” Arnwine said. “We have to first fight for our young people.”

Former USA Today columnist Dr. Barbara Reynolds held a book-signing and book launch in connection with the luncheon, presenting copies of her new book, “The Rise and Fall of the Techno-Messiah: Technology and the End Times.” The book issues a warning of how artificial intelligence is dangerous, eliminating jobs and it messages that some believe it could try to take the place of God.

“We will not be replaced; we will not be reduced,” Reynolds, an ordained minister, told the gathering.

Dr. Symone Campbell, a technology and artificial intelligence expert from Howard University gave warnings of how to recognize when misinformation is at work; especially during election time. She told the audience to look out for “repetitive language; distorted body parts such as hands, teeth, hair and face; audio not matching images or no images shown.”

Bishop George Holmes gave the benediction, encouraging the women to be thermostats instead of thermometers “because thermostats set the tone” in life instead of simply recording the temperature.