The Black Student Movement hosted its Black Women Lead event on Monday night in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History to celebrate the way Black women are leading and changing politics in North Carolina.
State Sen. Erica Smith, D-District 3, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, gave the keynote speech, which was followed by a panel discussion with other Black female politicians from the state.
“This is just such a significant event for us to have here at UNC, to recognize and celebrate the accomplishment and the work of Black women all across our state, to really lead and change the face of politics in North Carolina,” said Chris Suggs, the president of BSM.
Smith opened the event with a discussion of her platform and the historical underrepresentation of Black women in politics. Smith said that if she is elected on March 3, she will be the third woman in North Carolina history and the third Black woman in the nation’s history to serve in the Senate.
“If you want somebody who can stand on two feet and deliver for you, well then the best man to do that is a woman, and that’s me,” Smith said.
After Smith’s introduction, she was joined onstage by three other panelists who continued to discuss the importance of having Black women in politics.
Natalie Murdock, the Durham County soil and water conservation district supervisor and candidate for the N.C. Senate, said Black women need a seat at the table. She said they can lead from the perspective of life they have actually lived and bring issues to the table that otherwise might not receive the attention they deserve.
“It took getting Lauren Underwood in Congress and Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Alma Adams to lead the forefront on issues like HBCUs and saying, ‘Why don’t we have a committee dealing with the fact that Black women are dying from childbirth at higher rates?’” Murdock said. “And if you don’t have that representation, you won’t have individuals that even bring those issues to the forefront.”