WASHINGTON, DC – A national network of black women labor leaders featured in a new report, And Still I Rise: Black Women Labor Leaders’ Voices, Power and Promise, released the following statement today in response to recent attacks in Milwaukee and Minneapolis on law-abiding citizens protesting police killings of black youth.
A woman featured in the report, Milwaukee native and former Executive Director of Wisconsin Jobs Now, Jennifer Epps-Addison, was among those arrested, harassed and detained for over 12 hours in Milwaukee on Nov 19th. Epps-Addison, the mother of two young children, was one of six protestors and the only woman arrested while participating in a peaceful rally calling for justice for Dontre Hamilton, a Milwaukee youth who was shot and killed in Red Arrow Park in April. No charges were ever brought against the officer.
Statement by And Still I Rise Leaders
More likely than not, slain black children are the sons and daughters of mothers who work tirelessly outside of the home to put food on the table and roofs over their children’s heads. Imagine the heartbreak of spending countless hours on the job worrying about whether your children will make it home alive. Far too many black mothers don’t have to imagine this nightmare because they are living it. At an alarming rate, black mothers are experiencing the heartbreak of their children dying at the hands of those who swore to protect and serve them.
The crosshairs trained on our children are now turned on us when we stand up to call out injustice in our criminal justice system. Recounts Jennifer Epps-Addison, Milwaukee native and former Executive Director of Wisconsin Jobs Now of her November 19tharrest, “I was badgered, intimidated, made to change into an inmate jumpsuit and subjected to a body search, unlike the men who were arrested.” Continued Epps-Addison, “While I have been prepared to take arrest in the past, I was shocked at what a terrifying and dehumanizing experience this was for me.”
When mothers and sisters are arrested and harassed for singing in a public park; or are targeted and shot for demanding police accountability—our nation has taken a dark and dangerous turn away from what we value in America.
As mothers, fast food workers, sisters, union presidents, aunts, former elected officials and leaders in our communities—we call for ALL mothers and ALL leaders across the country to be the conscience of our nation and to protect the human and civil rights of black young men and women and those who risk their safety to stand up for them.
And Still I Rise, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative, brings the voices, power, and promise of black women labor leaders to bear in shaping strategies for economic justice and social change. The project launched with the release of a groundbreaking report by the same name in May 2015.