By Tiffany C. Ginyard,
Special to the AFRO
Black voters gathered at RYMKS Bar and Grille on election night to network and socialize for a watch party on the evening of the 2022 gubernatorial election. The black-owned and operated establishment in Harbor East’s Little Italy hosted members from a range of organizations aimed at creating equity for Black Baltimore and beyond.
Black Girls Vote, an organization founded in 2015 to represent the national and international concerns of women of color, joined two other local advocacy groups— grassroots think tank Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS) and CLLCTIVLY, a social change organization focused on resource mobilization and engaging residents in conversations about strategic collaboration.
“First and foremost, this is an important moment and for now, let’s just take it all in,” Nykidra “Nyke” Johnson, founder of Black Girls Vote, told the AFRO.
“I think about my mom, who recently passed away. She would’ve loved to see this, however, this goes to show, ‘our children are the living messengers we send to a future we’ll never see,’” said Johnson, affectionately affirming the sentiments of the late Hon. Elijah Cummings. “Now that we’re here, let’s talk about the policies on the table that can really change the trajectory of the lives of so many Black people.”
BGV wants the Black female voter block to track the new administration’s clutch of priorities in the first 100 days. What is at the top of their agenda particularly as it relates to economic development for Black women as citizens and ensuring that minority, female-led businesses, have access to some of the capital at the state and the local levels?
“As Black women voters we are particularly paying attention to how his administration allocates resources in these first 90 to 100 days,” Black Girls Vote Chief of Staff, Natasha Murphy, told the AFRO a few days after the election. “What is the governor-elect, and other elected officials, prioritizing?”
State government has the ability to provide grant funding to community-based organizations that are doing the work as it relates to civic engagement, crime prevention, and restorative justice.
Since it would be unconstitutional for the government to govern everything everywhere all the time, BGV is proposing to the state legislature this idea of creating public government partnerships to help fill in the gap where government resources are lacking.
“That’s how they can invest back into the community,” Murphy told the AFRO. “So it’s important they provide grant funding and pilot funding to these tried and true organizations to further support and expand the work. there’s so many organizations in Baltimore, and across the state, that have a proven track record of getting results. ”
“The real-world example we like to use is that they took civics out of schools a while back, or rather, there’s a greatly diminished civic curriculum. So there’s definitely an opportunity to engage entities like Black Girls Vote, to come into the schools, and on a short term basis provide civics education and information to young learners.”
Dedicated to using a collective voice to transform areas where bias has the most profound impact on public policy decisions affecting Black families and communities, BGV’s work is fundamentally centered in reminding people of their right and civic duty to effectively utilize their voice to implement transformational change.
Advancing education is among one of three of BGV’s strategic focus areas.
Currently seeking someone who could support expanding their collegiate chapters beyond the five that exists. “We would love to bring BGV to campuses on the West Coast and further up north, so we welcome women who are passionate about young people or youth development,” said Murphy.
Volunteering to host information tables at events and financial contributions are some of the immediate ways people can mobilize themselves. There’s also an annual membership program that offers benefits that engage voters at a level that’s comfortable and mutually rewarding.
Tiffany C. Ginyard is the founder of the Fly Girl Network, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on raising the collective consciousness and well-being of Black people in Baltimore and beyond through conscious-raising media, youth & leadership development, and collaborative healing initiatives.
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