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Community Empowerment Fund to host event celebrating Black female leaders

Yvette Mathews, the Office and Community Organizer for the Orange County Community Empowerment Fund, is pictured on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023.

The Community Empowerment Fund is hosting the Share the Love: Art Show and Celebration of Black Queens in Our Community event on Feb. 25 to recognize Black women leaders in the community. 

Six Black women leaders from the Orange and Durham counties area will be introduced and then "crowned" as queens for their contributions. Local artists will also present their work. 

The event will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Carrboro Century Center.

This is the event's second year. Event organizer Yvette Mathews came up with the idea in 2022. She said the women to be crowned have done their part for the community and deserve to be appreciated. 

“There's a lot going on in our community right now, and there has been for quite some time, but that doesn't stop us from recognizing excellence, it doesn't stop us from recognizing power, it doesn't stop us from recognizing positions that a lot of Black women are holding," Mathews said. 

Last year’s queens were U.S. Rep. Valerie Foushee, Carrboro Town Council member Barbara Foushee, Chapel Hill Town Council member Paris Miller-Foushee, First Lady of the First Baptist Church of Chapel Hill Kristal Coleman, CEF Executive Director Donna Carrington and EmPOWERment Inc. Executive Director Delores Bailey.

The 2022 queens nominated this year's queens and will introduce them on Saturday. The women nominated come from a variety of fields and services, including education, entrepreneurship and advocacy.

Barbara Foushee said she chose to nominate someone who reminds her of her own efforts to bring a Black woman’s perspective to the community.

“I just think about how that woman's voice has grown over the years,” she said. “I've seen her in certain spaces and how she just continues to show up and a voice just gets stronger and stronger.”

She also thinks of the event's recognition as a way to inspire future generations. 

“I believe that they could look at me and just say ‘I know her, and if she can, so can I,' and that's what I want, little young black girls and teenagers to look at me and say that,” Barbara Foushee said. 

Along with the recognition of the Black queens, artists who are a part of CEF will have their artwork displayed at the venue and the CEF choir will perform. 

Mathews said her reasoning behind combining the two events was to show thanks to people who support the community while also supporting the community by allowing people to showcase their work. 

CEF provides support to those experiencing homelessness, housing insecurity or poverty to people in Durham and Orange counties. Their work is grounded in recognition of the impacts of systemic racism on Black and brown community members. 

Te’Aja McCoy, a member of the advocate team that planned that event, said Black women in particular tend to be underrecognized and disregarded in communities, which is why it is important to have events to recognize their achievements. 

“I just think it's important to give people their flowers while they're still here, especially to marginalized communities if they do have an impact on the community, especially as positive as the ones the queens have had in their contribution to society and the community,” she said.

@DTHCityState | 

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