By Amira Daugherty & Loren Walter
As campus/community leaders and women of color, this is their response to Mayor Theresa Kenerly remarks.
Women of color have existed as members of a society that, for centuries, did not invite us to conversations surrounding our own lives. But that doesn’t mean we’ve stood by silently and disengaged. There is an incredibly rich history of black women’s civic and political activity in Georgia, from our work during the Civil War to political activism during Reconstruction and standing firm as the backbone of the Civil Rights Movement.
Our history serves as the groundwork for today’s leaders that capture the nation’s attention, evidenced by the powerful and effective leadership of trailblazers like Representatives Lucy McBath, Park Cannon, and Leader Stacey Abrams. When elected, women of color take the time to hear the issues of individuals and prioritize them for the community at large. When we lead, we do so from the vantage point of those who have been unseen, unheard, and neglected. We tackle issues facing our communities with the tenacity and stubbornness of a people who have had to claw for everything we currently enjoy. To us, the health crisis of one means the sickness of the communal body. We take the struggles of all children as if they were our own, working to ensure that regardless of background, they are served well within our schools. We feel the ache of the hungry as though our own bellies were too, empty, and work tirelessly to fill them.
In our communities, we are training to become the leaders that will inspire other young women of color to become civically engaged. Through our work with the Agnes Scott College Chapter of IGNITE National, we are uplifting young women and fueling their political power. It’s our job to make sure hateful rhetoric does not deter our peers from pursuing leadership roles and, ultimately, elected office. We each have leadership ambitious, ranging from the Board of Education to Congress to President of the United States.
Although there has been an immense amount of progress, black women remain highly underrepresented in Georgia’s government. Time and time again, black women have been told that they do not belong in Georgia politics. However, during Young Women Run Atlanta, IGNITE’s political leadership conference, we got a glimpse of what it means to be represented within our government. We met and heard from black women that have fought and continue fighting against sexism, racism, and numerous other -isms that suppress opportunities for women of color. These leaders show young black women that they too can facilitate change within their city, state, and country.
We have put the work in to be acknowledged and respected as community and campus leaders. Between the two of us, we’ve served as the Agnes Scott College Student Government Association President, President of the Agnes Scott College IGNITE Chapter, Chairwoman of the Constitutional Review Committee, student representative for the Judicial Review Committee, and invested hours in the 2018 election, campaigning and registering voters. This summer, we get to add Congressional Leadership Development Fellow with the Muslim Public Affairs Council and intern for Congressman Hank Johnson.
We reject the notion that the city of Hoschton — or any city in America — isn’t ready for us because we’re ready and prepared to lead and represent all our constituents. One should never question whether or not a community in Georgia is “ready” for our leadership, Mayor Kenerly, unless they are concerned with progressing too swiftly in an equitable, prosperous, and democratic direction.