Iit’s too common for the work of Black woman be overlooked. But black women continue to impact their communities in ways big and small. But this Black Women’s History Month, which takes place in April, I wanted to shine a light on the black women who are fueling change in Baltimore.
These women are changing the way black women engage in politics and entrepreneurship. They also support the entrepreneurial aspirations of black women or work overtime to ensure black people have access to high quality black legal advice.
Understanding that no list can include all of the dynamic people who influence our communities, I name these leaders while leaving room for the countless others we cannot name. I hope you will see them and honor them in your own way. One of the ways to do this is to mention their name in rooms they may not have access to or donate to the organizations they lead.
Either way, make room and space to celebrate those who uplift our community today and every day.
Nykidra Robinson was featured in 2022 as one of 25 Black Marylanders to Watch. And once you learn more about her, you’ll understand why. Robinson founded and runs Black Girls Vote. She launched the organization on November 30, 2015. Shirley Chisholm was born on November 30, and Robinson hopes her organization will channel Chisholm’s spirit and carry on her legacy. In 1968, Chisholm became the first black woman to be elected to Congress. Through Black Girls Vote, Robinson’s mission is to demystify the political process and provide an on-ramp to participation for black girls and youth.
Black Girls Vote is invested in ensuring that black women and girls are empowered to advance educational equity, economic development, quality health care and other issues that improve outcomes for black women and girls. The organization focuses on issues that affect black women – health equity, entrepreneurship, student loans – in a fun and dynamic way. Robinson says, “Black women and girls shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions and engage in the political process.” She wants the communities she serves to understand that “politics is not a dirty word and that engagement in the process is necessary”. Black Girls Vote has launched local chapters on college campuses in Maryland and beyond. She added, “Young people were heavily involved in the civil rights movement and today we are creating a movement of young people and coming back to them.” Nykidra Robinson’s work was funded, in part, by OSI-Baltimore. Learn more here Or here.
Nakeia Drummond founded and directs the Women’s Entrepreneur Leadership Lab (The WELL). When black women start businesses, many find themselves elated to envision and then achieve their dreams. But soon after launch, or even in the early stages of incubation, many find themselves isolated, struggling to raise capital, and in need of support. Drummond undertook a listening session, organizing and facilitating roundtables with black women entrepreneurs over an eighteen month period. She found that while black women are among the fastest-starting demographics, many struggle to raise enough capital to sustain the business. Others find they lead the way, clearing brush and thorns along the way. WELL’s mission is to imagine, build and support the future we want for ourselves and our communities. We are a synergistic community where each member grows their businesses, creates wealth and leads to the level of their dreams. Nakeia Drummond’s work was funded, in part, by OSI-Baltimore Read more here.
Shawna Murray Browne
Shawna Murray-Browne is Kindred Wellness’ Senior Consultant. Murray-Browne is a licensed clinical social worker and award-winning community healer, national speaker, and liberation-focused mind-body medicine practitioner. She shows changemakers how to heal themselves so they can serve others. She also guides leading nonprofits, philanthropic and social service organizations to nurture a culture of racial equity, healing and impact. She provides space for Black women and girls to heal current and historical trauma, honor culture, and teach mind-body medicine. She enjoys connecting with organizations that are ready to tackle tough topics about race, in a journey to be anti-oppressive and liberation-focused. Learn more here.
Kisha A. Brown
Kisha A. Brown is an attorney and entrepreneur whose mission is to connect people in need of legal advice with black attorneys. As noted in an NBC News article about his business, Brown has found that “black clients feel they receive more support and more favorable outcomes from black lawyers than from non-black legal help.” His company, Justis Connection, provides high-quality referrals to attorneys and people in need of legal representation. It also helps position black lawyers as thought leaders and experts, allowing lawyers to focus on the task at hand rather than prospecting for clients. Brown told me, “From the minute I started law school, I got requests for referrals from lawyers. I would go through my phone and email and try to make connections. I realized that black lawyers were unknowingly leaving our community vulnerable to a system that marginalizes and oppresses us. Black lawyers need black people to support their practice and black people need culturally competent lawyers. Aside from this fact, we all need a lawyer around us. No matter your resources; we all need advice. As black people, we navigate the world and our lives very differently than others. Justis Connection was featured on Washington’s ABC 7 and Scripps News Service. Learn more here.
Nicole Hanson Mundell
Nicole Hanson-Mundell is an expert in criminal justice policy and rehabilitation in Maryland. She is the executive director of Out for Justice. Out for Justice is a returning citizen-led, member-driven nonprofit organization that works to reform local and statewide reintegration policies. Out for Justice’s mission is to engage, educate and empower people with criminal records to lead political reform in Maryland. Nicole’s unique advocacy approach is to “stay close to the ground”, articulating the needs of marginalized people in policy spaces, which has earned her a seat as the only black woman affected on the working group on Governor Hogan’s gangs. She believes that the services and activities provided by Out for Justice are an effective way for her to connect policy work with local service-oriented efforts. Her passion for reintegration work comes from her own life experience, which she uses as a tool to advocate for effective and practical legislation that positively impacts the community she serves. Nicole Hanson-Mundell’s work was funded, in part, by OSI-Baltimore. Learn more here And here.
Kieta Iriat Amin and Nazaahah Amin
Kieta Iriate Amin and Nazaahah Amin envision a world where black and brown girls and women are empowered, empowered, aware and supportive of each other. They knew their dream would not come true without intention, and since 2017 they have invested their hearts, souls, business acumen, and wisdom in creating safe and supportive spaces for black girls and women and brunettes thanks to BMore Empowered. Kieta is focused on backend operations, ensuring their dream is not only inspiring but sustainable. Nazaahah implements wellness in everything she does, ensuring that women and girls understand the power of yoga, reiki, sister circles and other practices that allow us to rid the body from unhealthy stressors. Kieta shared “We can’t separate business from wellness and we want girls to trust themselves, know how to deal with stressors and start a process of self-discovery.”
Their signature summer camp brings 30 girls ages 9-17 together in the community, while providing the opportunity to learn from black women business owners. Their Business Women’s Cohort also provides insight and mentorship opportunities for women business owners and aspiring business owners. By instilling values of self-discovery, sisterhood and community, BMore Empowered hopes to inspire girls and women with a level of confidence that will serve them throughout their lives. The organization received the Black Girls Freedom Fund grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in recognition of its efforts to support the community.
Jennifer R. Farmer is the author of “First and Only: A Black Woman’s Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life” and a public relations officer for social justice.
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