This spring the Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus (WBWPC) held its first ever annual Westchester Power Circle event at Westchester Community College (WCC) to represent Black women who occupy political spaces all throughout the county.
WBWPC President Subomi Macaulay worked diligently alongside the organization’s members to put the event together.
“For years and decades Black women have been the powerful force, getting people elected into their positions and they take our vote for granted. We have to turn the tables and say listen, if you want our vote, you have to earn it” says Macaulay.
Political figures all throughout the state showed their support for the event. Westchester’s very own Black female leaders in attendance included NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard, and Yonkers City Court Judge Verris Shako.
Many of the women had some powerful words of encouragement to share with audience members, as a reminder to continue working in leadership, while emphasizing the importance of integrity and influence.
“I believe we are being called upon to take a position on something”, shared Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins,” If you don’t know who you are, then you can’t stand up against anybody and you can’t stand up for anybody”. The Senate Majority Leader – who was one of the opening speakers – emphasized the value of empathy while making decisions in leadership. “You only benefit from knowing what other people have gone through. It allows you to make a better decision”.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard who took the stage just moments later, spoke about the significance of housing rights, access to education, and even reproductive health rights. Mayor Patterson-Howard who attended a rally for reproductive rights last year, cited a woman who held up a sign that read, “Black Babies Matter”.
The Mount Vernon Mayor replied, “they absolutely matter, but they can’t just matter when they’re in their mother’s womb. They have to matter when they need education, when they are living in neighborhoods that are unsafe, they have to matter when racist extremists are shooting them down in supermarkets’’.
With the event taking place just days after the tragedy of the heinous Buffalo supermarket massacre, it was crucial, serving as a reminder and importance of communal support.
The Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus has been a force in the Westchester political sphere and has both nurtured and supported the advancement of Black women for more than 37 years, within its 5 chapters throughout the county. Many of their members are district leaders, state committee members, convention delegates, commissioners, party chairs and community organizers. Verris Shako, who is the first African-American Woman to sit as the City Court Judge in Yonkers. Judge Shako who handles anything from criminal, housing, or even civil cases is a former member of WBWPC, says that the organization was instrumental in helping her run for the Yonkers City Court Judge. The women in the organization assisted her with apartment canvassing and increasing her community profile. “These events are important so that people become aware of the work that we are doing, so that we can address the issues that are occurring in our community…it helps to bring the members of the organization together to fulfill their mission”.
Tai Johnson, who serves as the Director of WBWPC’s Yonkers Chapter, speaks to the organization’s impact on its members, “we empower black women in Westchester and have many of our own who started out in this organization and with our support and became elected”.
President Subomi Macaulay hopes to increase the Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus membership enrollment. Since becoming President of the organization last year, she has increased their membership enrollment from 88 to 191 and has helped to raise nearly $30,000 dollars since her term began. “I’m focused on not only empowering and nurturing black women but leaving a legacy for the next generation. Macaulay is hoping to reach the younger generation of women ages 18-30 and to show black women of all ages that they deserve a seat at the table.
While this year’s Westchester Power Circle event marks the first, the organization is prepared to present the Westchester community with many more to come!