National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Queen City Metropolitan chapter co-sponsored the 2019 Women United March. Pictured with Congresswoman Alma Adams (center). Photo courtesy of National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Queen City Metropolitan chapter
It’s been almost 10 years since the National Coalition of 100 Black Women launched its Charlotte chapter. When the chapter began in 2009, communities were still dealing with the impact of the economic downturn. Locally, the Coalition worked with organizations like Jacob’s Ladder Job Center to help women find work and make career changes. Through the years, the group’s work has shifted toward advocating for eliminating disparities in school funding, increasing the living wage and closing the gaps in gender pay and health care.
Chapter president Tiffany Hemmings-Prather joined the coalition in 2013 to meet like-minded women after she relocated from Virginia. Since then, she’s served in several leadership roles before taking the helm as president in 2016. She says the organization meets with legislators, writes position papers and hosts forums on issues affecting Black women and girls.
Hemmings-Prather weighed in on the organization’s role in making Charlotte a more equitable place for Black women and girls.
What have been some key initiatives for Charlotte’s chapter of 100 Black Women?
The chapter is currently working closely with the Southside Homes community [in South End]. We facilitate financial literacy workshops and sponsor uninsured women in the community to receive a free mammogram. Through this partnership, we also have a mentorship program for girls in grades 6-12. The program focuses on character development, literacy and leadership. Next year, two participants will be the first to graduate from the program.
Pay equity has always been a hot topic, but the conversation reignited recently with women in sports (specifically, women’s soccer and tennis). What is the chapter noticing about pay equity in Charlotte and what is it doing to help close the gap?
A significant number of our members work in the private sector, corporate America. I’ve noticed that women do not use the negotiation process. We host workshops on resume writing and interview skills to help them become more confident at the negotiation table. We also facilitate discussions around pay disparities. We educate women on the laws around pay equity and how to gain a seat at the table to advocate for increased pay and opportunities for women.
The general rule is that housing should account for no more than 30% of your income. How is the chapter participating in the work toward livable wages so that residents can have a good-paying job to afford to live comfortably in Charlotte?
Most of our work is accomplished by meeting with legislators. We meet with local North Carolina senators and Congress representatives. We had the opportunity to speak with federal-level representatives on National Legislative Day. We come to the table with position papers and have conversations about our initiatives, including affordable housing. We are doing the work to find out what kind of regulations can be put into place to make housing affordable in Charlotte.
There was a record number of women elected to political office in last year’s elections. What are your thoughts on increasing the number of women in political office?
As a non-partisan organization, we support and advocate to have more women at the table. We empower our members to serve on local boards and commissions. Citizens are more affected by local government than they are by state and federal regulations, so we push to have our members serve locally.
Earlier this year, the chapter joined Charlotte Women’s March as a co-leader of the Women United March. What was the impact around issues of Black women and girls?
We were approached to join the march to add diversity. From our perspective, it was important to show that even from within our community, the voices of Black women are diverse. We brought women from the LGBTQ community, different cultural and economic backgrounds to the table. It’s important to represent the intersectionality of Black women and the Black experience.
We plan to partner with the women’s march again next year. We have been brought in on the front end of planning and our focus is less on politics and more on uniting women. We learned that based on a woman’s background, the issues are different. We live in a city with huge disparities in income and education. As Black women, we are advocating on behalf of those who may not have previously had a voice.
Where do you see the chapter in the next 10 years?
I see us becoming the voice of Black women and girls in this city. I envision politicians — and those who want to have relationships with people of color — partnering with our organization as a think tank.
Nakisha Washington is a journalist who interviewed America’s first self-made female billionaire, a presidential candidate and her favorite reality TV personality all within 72 hours. Catch her talking career and lifestyle tips to curious millennials on her blog, theprofashionalist.com.