International anti-racism educator, Catrice Jackson, says after holding women's conferences for years, she wanted to focus on who she says are the pilots of change - Black women. That led her to hosting the “Follow Black Women” conference, which is now in its fourth year.
“It seems like in the last five years or so there's this new interest or a spotlight, if you will, on all the great things that Black women are doing across the country, especially in terms of elections,” she said. “Finally, I think there's some momentum behind really noticing the power of the Black woman's voice. And so being a part of the movement, I decided that there needed to be some kind of event that really amplified the voices of Black women and really pushed forward the message of following Black women because I think that we have been and that we will be leading this revolution of racial justice.”
Catrice says while Black women being on the frontline of systemic change can be empowering, the constant battle can also result in a cycle of everlasting stress.
“We get into this mode that we've always been in as Black women: pushing, pushing, pushing, fighting, scratching, surviving, struggling, and we know how to do that,” she said. “We know how to do that well, but do we know how to be joy? Do we know how to live a joy filled life? Do you know how to teach our daughters and our granddaughters how to do more than just work, and struggle and fight and scratch and survive? I felt like it was an important moment to really put the spotlight on the importance of joy being a part of the revolution, and how you can begin to create space internally to hold on to that joy, create that joy, and then spread that joy out to other black women. I think that fighting for justice is critical, but I also think that fighting for our joy is just as paramount.”
This year’s Follow Black Women theme is “BLACK TO THE FUTURE: Imagining A World Where Black Women Are Free, Joyful, and Thriving!” The conference takes place on October 16 at the Quincy Hall in Northeast Minneapolis.