March Moments of Influence, Photo of Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina's ninth poet laureate

Moments of Influence You (May Have) Missed

Moments of Influence is a series where we highlight a few, just a tiny few, of the moments where signatories to the African American Women in Defense of Ourselves media campaign continue to make an impact.  In 1991, they used their voices to protest sexual harassment.  Twenty-eight years later, they are still working to impact our society both as individuals and as a group.  It is an honor to share what we learn.

Jaki Shelton Green

Ms. Shelton Green was appointed North Carolina’s ninth poet laureate. She is the first African American and the third woman to serve in this role and plans to focus her efforts on the creation of documentary poetry.  Read the announcement.

Gloria Ladson-Billings

Ms. Ladson-Billings was honored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a three-day conference to discuss her 26- year legacy. During that time she supervised more than 50 dissertations—21 of them by Black Women. She is now the president of the National Academy of Education, which supports research for the advancement of education policy and practice in the United States.  Read the announcement.

Tina McElroy Ansa

Ms. McElroy Ansa reminds us that she is available for speaking engagements: women’s, literary, business and diversity conferences & seminars. She founded DownSouth Press & the Annual Sea Island Writers Retreats on Sapelo Island, Georgia and On the Road to assist emerging and established writers in honing their work and skills. She is a novelist, publisher, filmmaker, teacher, and journalist. But above all, she is a storyteller and cultural icon. You can reach her at

Dr. Julianne Malveaux

Dr. Malveaux, or the “Mad Economist,” was profiled in The Heights Magazine. The article, “Truth Be Told: Dr. Julianne Malveaux” tells a wonderful story about events that influenced Dr. Malveaux as well as some of her actions that have influenced others.  Read the article.

Margo Jefferson

Ms. Jefferson will deliver the Keynote lecture on Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess for the Fort Worth Opera Festival. As a board member of the Oakland Symphony, I have been in a few conversations about how complicated arts organizations find navigating race and music classics (or classical music). The Fort Worth Opera Festival made a great choice to have Margo Jefferson deliver the keynote. I love this quote: “Porgy and Bess demands that we, its American audience, live with its contradictions and live up to its complexities. When we do that, it rewards us with its musical glories.” Read the announcement.

Farah Jasmine Griffin

Dr. Griffin, the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies, will lead the newly established African American and African Diaspora Studies Department as its first chair. “The study of black life, in the western hemisphere in particular, is something that Columbia has been engaging in, and has been at the forefront of, since Zora Neale Hurston began her work here,” said Griffin.  Read the announcement.

Elizabeth Alexander

Ms. Alexander was profiled in Time’s article, “How Artists of All Ages Keep Their Creative Spirit Alive”. You may know her as the poet who read her work Praise Song for the Day at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. She is now the president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Read the full article.

Annette Gordon-Reed

Love this pinned tweet photo of Ms. Gordon-Reed on the road signing her book “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination” (for those who prefer the public library) (Liveright, 2016).

Here are a few ways to stay in touch with Sisters Testify.

  • Sign up for the Sisters Testify Newsletter. This will go out two or three times a month and will contain content from our blog.
  • Complete the Sisters Testify survey. Tell us about your history with African American Women In Defense of Ourselves or about your experiences witnessing Anita Hill’s testimony.
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

In struggle,

Hardcover image of Becoming by Michelle Obama

February Inspirations

Last month, we launched our Inspirations series with the January Inspirations survey, designed to get a snapshot of what’s on your mind.  Here are a few of your answers from last month’s survey.  Don’t forget to take a few minutes to share your February Inspirations.

Read more

Signatory Answers in WordArt

Our Voices

Our Voices is a regular series to highlight and amplify the voices of the signatories to the 1991 African American Women in Defense of Ourselves media campaign.  Today, we decided to look at signatory answers to one of the questions in our Sisters Testify survey.  

What did you hope to achieve by contributing to the African American Women in Defense of Ourselves proclamation?

The words we used

I created the word cloud at the top of this page by inputting the raw answers to this question into’s word art creator.  I wasn’t surprised to see Anita Hill’s name pop off the page.  Many recalled wanting her to know that she was not alone, and that she was believed.  Others wanted to raise the issue of sexual harassment, rape and workplace violence and sexual stereotypes and treatment of black women.

I was moved, however, to see the words “Voice” and “Heard” show up — over and over again.  In fact, many answers had identical phrasing.

Read more

Welcome to the 116th United States Congress

Mid-term elections

I enjoyed watching the 116th United States Congress get started on January 3, 2019. The media coverage was a bright spot.  It was fun, full of teachable moments, and the incoming class itself inspired me.  I welcomed it after the frenetic holiday news cycles about a volatile stock market, the government shut-down, and trade wars.

By now you know that this Congress is different from the others, but it’s worth recapping some of those differences.


What message do you want to deliver to the 116th Congress?

We are launching our monthly survey series with this question.  Tell us what you think by completing the survey below or by leaving a note in the comments.  We’ll summarize the results right here on our blog next month.

In struggle for harmony,


Sign up for the Sisters Testify Newsletter if you want to stay connected.

Complete the Sisters Testify survey.

Photo credit:  From left, Lauren Underwood D-IL, Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Ilhan Omar D-MN, during the swearing-in ceremony of Congressional Black Caucus members of the 116th Congress at The Warner Theatre in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

The United States Reports, the official reporter of the Supreme Court of the United States

Four fun ways to learn about the Supreme Court

We are in the midst of midterm elections here in the United States.  This is the time where we educate ourselves about the choices we’re being asked to make.  My local and state ballot is full of subjects, some I understand and some I still need to study.  If you’re like me, you might also try to follow certain issues in other local elections, like Stacey Abrams’ run for Governor of Georgia.  I try to keep up by surfing the news where our attention is directed from issue to issue by news cycles and media outlets.

But issues come along that resonate enough for me to break from the news cycle and study a bit more.  The Supreme Court is one of those issues for me.  If you’re curious about it also, keep reading to learn about some great resources to help you see another perspective.

Read more

Recycle a fairness standard for the Brett Kavanaugh hearings

Do not victimize any witness who appears here and …treat every witness with respect.  

– Senator Joseph Biden, Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee, 1991

Today begins Day 5 of Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Read more