Thursday, September 29, 2016, thirty (30) African American women leaders from Chester County communities were invited to a gathering with Michelle Legaspi Sanchez, Executive Director of Chester County Fund for Women and Girls. The focus of the event was to present and converse about the “2016 Blueprint: Leveraging Progress,” produced by the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls. The purpose of this presentation was to introduce to some and review with others the data reported as it related to African American women and girls in Chester County. The goal was to provide a platform for the leaders to share insights, current works and possible ways to improve the well-being of African American women and girls in Chester County in seven core areas.
Over the course of 17 months, a series of lively, passionate, follow up discussions were held. The issues that were addressed were diverse and complex, therefore most of the resolutions would not be simple nor would it be a ‘one size fits all’. The group recognized that their collective insight, knowledge, expertise, and talents would enable a unique opportunity to add value, voice, and validity to African American challenges as well as to highlight their inherent resilience. The group decided to move from conversation to action.
As a result, the Black Women of Chester County in Action (BWCCA) was formed. It is the hope of BWCCA to promote and support the resources that effectively meet the needs of Chester County Black women and girls; advocate for and challenge those social, environmental and institutional systems that do harm; and creatively work with the community to develop ways to fill gaps to meet their needs in a holistic, culturally sensitive, strength-based way. It was also decided to change the words African American to Black to be inclusive of all women of color in the African Diaspora.
BWCCA prioritized the 7 areas in the Blueprint within the group’s first 2-3 years. It was a difficult process because all the areas greatly impacted Black females and were found to be interrelated. However, it was discerned that the areas of education, economics and health would be the capstones for change. It was also determined that greater efforts were needed to increase black female leaders at tables of power, influence and decisions that impact change in areas that are detrimental to Black
women and girls. BWCCA has committed to offer itself as a resource to institutions, communities and interested stakeholders addressing the areas of disparities, injustices and needs of Black women and girls.
BWCCA formed a steering committee of 14 members that meet on a regular basis to provide oversight and guidance for any initiatives/ activities/and programming sponsored by the group. The general membership is convened 2-3 times a year. Membership is open to all interested Black female leaders, those who aspire to be leaders; and those of influence in the Greater Chester County Area.