“THE BREAKING OF BARRIERS”

By Nikitra Hamilton, BA, M.Ed., MLS

HOUSTON – In 1962, Malcolm X stated, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”

In the decades since, those words have continued to resonate: a rallying cry for black women who felt sidelined in the fight for civil rights, ignored during the feminist awakening, and discounted as their protests against police violence has been overlooked.

But, it is a new year, and change is on the horizon!  Within the first three months of 2019, The City of Houston, has given black women ample reason to know that this belief is diminishing.

How? Well, what do you get when you intermingle the first African-American female business organization, Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, the Texas Miracle (the nineteen black female judges elected in Harris County in November 2018), and a young African-American female Booker T. Washington scholarship recipient by the name of Bracaya Pellum?  BLACK-GIRL- MAGIC!

What is “The Texas Miracle,” and why have these ladies been bestowed with such a title? They are nineteen African American women who ran for judge in November 2018 – and ALL won!

They campaigned together under the slogan “Black Girl Magic” with the support of the Harris county Democratic party.  Their victories marked an unprecedented level of success for black female judicial candidates in the county, which includes Houston.

Why is this so important? With a population of more than 4.5 million, Harris county is bigger than 24 US states.  About 70% of the population is non-white.  An analysis by a progressive legal group, the American Constitution Society found that while white men only make up 30% of the Texas population; yet, 58% of them held state court judge positions, which explains the historical imbalance of African-Americans and minorities being prosecuted at higher rates.

Who is Iota Phi Lambda Sorority Inc.? They are the first African-American Greek-lettered business sorority established by African American business women.  They have more than 100 chapters with membership numbering more than 5,000 in 85 cities and the US Virgin Islands, whose sole mission is to develop youth, inspire women, strengthen sisterly bonds, and service their community.

Utilizing their mission, President Audrey Davis and Dr. Valencia Hall, both of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc., decided to embark upon a rare opportunity to commemorate this historical occasion via an immaculately planned dinner reception for the, “Texas Miracle,” judges held at the Marriot-Houston, Gulf Freeway in Houston, Texas on Sunday, February 17, 2019.  They simultaneously bestowed Bracaya Pellum, a Booker T. Washington student, with a scholarship for college to continue the legacy of upward bound women of color for her well-written essay!

To say the least, the ceremony was extremely emotional, prophetic, and represented the circle of life in a state where so many brown lives have been lost due to unjustly convicted African-American men and women.  As we bring Women’s History Month to a close; We must continue to celebrate the synergy, rise, and power of women of color; and, we must always remember that this celebration of The Breaking of Barriers was indeed a Texas Miracle!