Clarke Hosts Women’s Empowerment Event

Panelists at the Women’s Empowerment Forum. Photo Credit Kelly Mena.

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Brownsville, Sheepshead Bay) hosted a women’s empowerment event at Medgar Evers College to highlight the work and voices of black women across the city.

The event’s theme, “I.Am.An.Overcomer.” focused on black women and girls’ empowerment and provided coping strategies to those seeking to live in their wholeness. Clarke used the event to provide an open forum to ethnic women to share their personal experiences while also motivating young black girls to overcome any possible barriers to success.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke

“We have to never stop learning, we have to never stop engaging and getting information and exchanging information with one another. Particularly in times like these. I think the necessity for it, is making itself more evident more and more each day,” said Clarke.

The keynote speaker for the evening was First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray, who gave an energizing address to the more than 100 women and teenagers in the room, motivating them to get politically engaged.

“We’ve proven that we can swing elections and change history and the concerns of Black women and girls can not be ignored anymore. That is, if we raise our voices and if we vote,” said McCray.

First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray at the Women’s Empowerment Forum at Medgar Evers College. Photo Credit, Kelly Mena.

The First Lady went on to share her own experience as a young black women trying to get a quality education.

“I was the only black girl in all of my classes and I was bullied. And let me tell you it was not easy. I couldn’t run to my parents because that was not how it was done, because I was there to get an education. I was expected to suck it up and get back to school the next day. Even though I was harassed, chased home and even spit on, I still overcame it. Just like so many of you that have overcome hardships and violence,” added McCray.

The night also included a panel discussion by successful black women including Angela Yee,The Breakfast Club; Tamika Lamison, Hollywood Producer, Director and Actress; Miss Gregory, Kings County District Attorney, Bureau Chief of Special Victims Bureau, City of Brooklyn; and Dr. Maudry-Beverly Lashley, Chair, Psychology Department, Medgar Evers College.

The panel discussed a wide variety of issues from their personal definition of ‘Black Women Empowerment’ to the #MeToo Movement.

In particular, Tamika Lamison shared her traumatic sexual harassment experience with famous Hollywood Manager Vincent Cirrincione, who she claims used his influential position as a gatekeeper for women of color in the industry to coerce her into a sexual relationship.

“He grabbed me, he kissed me and stuck his tongue in my mouth. I pushed him away. I asked him what he was doing. He said, “I think your great, I think I can do something for your career. But this is how this works- I get to see you whenever I want to see you and we can have a little fun,” said Lamison.

Lamison went on to recount how she denied Virrincione’s sexual advances and refused his representation as a result of the incident but was able to share her experience with a community of women that were ready to support her.

In recent months, the #MeToo Movement has been sparking controversy as it’s founder Tarana Burke has had to remind people that the origins of the term started to focus on black and brown women.

Last night’s event was cosponsored by the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls that focuses on developing public policy that reduces disparities experienced by Black women. The Caucus works to eliminate barriers to success for black women and girls.