Three of the area’s top female political leaders discussed their shared experiences and ambitions Friday morning in interviews on the Globe’s Black News Hour radio and television program, celebrating Women’s History Month with a call to advance the work of Black women in politics and in government.
The Globe’s Meghan Irons and Jeneé Osterheldt co-hosted the episode and were joined by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, former Boston city councilor Andrea Campbell, and Harvard University professor Danielle Allen, who recently ended a run for Massachusetts governor.
Campbell, who is running for Massachusetts attorney general, said that she attributes her work and the drive to become the first Black female chief law enforcement official to her life experiences, and that it was important to share those experiences with others.
“I think it’s creating space for us just to tell our stories, without judgment, to love one another, to celebrate one another, to remind us … that we are all here for a very unique purpose, that we are all here with specific gifts and talents that are no one else’s,” she said.
Campbell, whose twin brother, Andre, died in the custody of the state Department of Correction 10 years ago, noted that she finds purpose in running for the position in which she would be able to better investigate such future cases.
She said the government can play a crucial role in creating space for Black women to tell their stories.
“We know not enough voices are represented, and if that’s the case we will only perpetuate a narrative that Black identity only means one thing, and can only be one thing,” Campbell said.
Allen, a political theorist at Harvard University who was the first Black woman to run for Massachusetts governor as a part of a major party, said one of her family members also had tragic dealings with police and prison systems, a commonality among Black families that illustrates inequities in the criminal justice system. But she noted she had the opportunity in her run for governor to address the need for change.
“If not for me, who else would give voice to these things?” she said, noting the inspiration that President Biden’s nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the first Black woman on the Supreme Court has had on her daughter, who called Jackson a “Blerd,” or a “Black nerd.”
Allen and Campbell spoke during a roundtable discussion during the Globe’s Black News Hour, a monthly television and radio program celebrating Black communities and culture. The discussion also included Stephanie Guirand of the Cambridge-based Holistic Emergency Alternative Response Team (HEART), which has been exploring alternative responses to emergencies other than by police.
Earlier in the news program, Pressley, the first Black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts and the first to be elected a Boston city councilor, highlighted the need for people of all backgrounds to be involved in policymaking, saying that “hurt and harm have been codified in our laws very precisely.”
It will take the same effort to undo that injustice, she said.
“We can legislate equity, we can legislate healing, we can legislate justice,” Pressley said. “That all begins with our lawmaking because we have historically been under-resourced, divested from, and that has not created an equitable system where we can thrive.”
Pressley, a Democrat representing Massachusetts’s Seventh Congressional District, noted that she is sponsoring the CROWN Act, which would outlaw discrimination based on hair style and texture, saying systemic injustices are built on matters such as what one’s hair looks like. The act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” passed the US House Friday and is now headed to the Senate. The Massachusetts House passed a similar bill on Thursday.
Pressley also noted Jackson’s potential to make history as the first Black female justice, and the pride of seeing a high court justice with braids in her hair, or “sister locks,” as Pressley put it.
The congresswoman credited the inspiration her mother gave her to make change, taking note of that work in Women’s History Month.
“She told me that to be Black was a beautiful thing, to be proud of … but that I was being born into a struggle,” she said.
See more about the topics discussed:
- Pressley’s first reelection campaign event highlights youth organizing
- Harvard professor Danielle Allen to ‘wind down’ gubernatorial campaign
- Ed Markey endorses Andrea Campbell for Massachusetts attorney general seat
Learn more about “Black News Hour” at globe.com/BNH.