Pictured Left to right; James Shadd, Evangelina Hemphill, Cynnamon Morant, Adriane Johnson, Lawanda Holliman, Germaine Middleton-Rasberry, Claudia Brooks-McCallum, Chandra Cleveland-Jennings, Gervonder Brown, Salandra Bowman.

This article was published by the Millennium Magazine Staff on May 1st, 2018. The original article can be found at http://www.millmag.org/100-black-women-hosted-an-anti-prison-pipeline-symposium/

According to national statistics from the 2013-2014 school year, many girls of color are unfairly disciplined. They are disproportionately dealt the harshest exclusionary penalties, expulsions and out of school suspensions. Black Girls are 5.5 times more likely to be suspended from school than their counter parts. Their suspensions are most often for minor infractions, like not complying with strict dress codes or talking back. In general, schools suspend Black, Latina and American Indian/ Alaskan Native Girls at higher rates than white girls. The message that is conveyed to these girls is that school is not a minority-girl friendly place. These practices may also be a form of illegal gender and racial bias. Girls are being unfairly pushed out of schools and into the prison pipeline.

To address this alarming racial disparity, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Columbia (SC) Chapter recently held its inaugural symposium on “Let Her Learn: A Conversation to Stop School Push Out For Girls of Color.”

A panel of eight community leaders, representing diverse professional careers, recently participated in a well attended symposium that examined this phenomenon. Following a high spirited, excellent presentation and discussion, where the topic was thoroughly examined, it was determined that the next step is a call for action.

According to Chapter President, Mary Miller McClellan, “Subsequent to such a powerful forum, our continued advocacy of the Anti-Prison Pipeline for black girls is essential. A ‘Call for Action Forum’ will be announced in the early fall of 2018 when the chapter resumes activities after a brief summer hiatus.”

The mission of the 100 Black Women is to advocate for women and girls in leadership development and gender equity in the areas of health, education and economic empowerment. The Columbia Chapter was chartered on March 29, 2014. It is part of a national organization that began in New York in 1970 in an effort to continue the successful implementation of socio economic and political strategies that began in the mid 1960’s. The NCBW consists of thousands of progressive women of African descent who represent 60 chapters in 25 states and the District of Columbia and whose commitment to socioeconomic advancement drives meaningful change to benefit women of color.