Honestly y’all I have been procrastinating on this post. So much has happened and I just don’t have a grip on my thoughts yet, but maybe this will help. Two weeks ago I attended my first Delta Regional Conference. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was so overwhelming and amazing at the same time. There were multiple times when I was just standing there in awe of this great organization and the intelligent, beautiful, powerful women who are a part of it. I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn and I plan for many similar experiences to come in the future.
I left that conference Sunday afternoon, drove back to school, worked Monday then hopped in the car to drive to Washington DC for another conference, The United State of Women White House Summit!
I have a great friend and mentor who works under the Obama administration who was able to invite me to this event, and I am not sure I will ever be able to repay her (also same friend who invited me to meet and discuss with Secretary of Education, John King.) I also want to thank my old roommate for allowing me to stay at her parents house in Northern Virginia so that I didn’t have to fork out $300 for a one-night stay at a hotel #blessed.
So on Tuesday, I woke up at 4:45am to do my hair and makeup and leave the house with my roommate’s parents by 5:45am so that we could drive into the city and take the metro to the convention center. The event hosted 5,000 powerful women who are all doing incredible work in their respective fields. Due to the number of attendees, it took about 45 min to get into the building due to the airport-like security, so there was a line wrapped around the building to get in. Across from the convention center was a group of women finishing their run with November Project DC, which I understand to be a free running group for women in the city. Before the group left they cheered and yelled in support of all us women in line waiting to get into the building. It was such a simple, yet beautiful image of what women supporting women looks like.
The day was divided into 6 different pillars:
- Violence Against Women
- Health and Wellness
- Economic Empowerment
- Entrepreneurship & Innovation
- Educational Opportunity
- Civic Engagement & Leadership
To name just a few, Connie Britton, CEO of Planned Parenthood Spoke, VP Joe Biden, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA, OPRAH, Amy Poehler, Shonda Rhimes, and Gloria Steinem were all attendees and speakers at the event. I simply felt blessed to just be in the room! My favorite podcasters Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedan were also there, as was my favorite journalist Soledad O’Brien (I tried to find them, but was unsuccessful.)
VP Joe Biden spoke on the issue of sexual assault and rape against women and ended up going 30min over his allotted time. In result, the day was way off schedule and probably ended around 8:30 when it was supposed to be over at 6pm.. I left a little early because I had an hour long metro ride back to NOVA, but I made sure that I heard First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah’s conversation!
You could tell that a lot of thought went into the creation of this conference. All types of women were represented and diverse stories were told. I knew the day was going to be great after a group of Girl Scouts representing different races came out to do the Pledge of Allegiance. One girl even signed (ASL) the pledge. In addition, there were women’s restrooms, as well as all gender restrooms available. Near the end of the day I saw a 14 year old girl take a picture with this sign radiating about how important this was to her and how represented she felt! I don’t care what your politics are, this is what it is really about. All the bathrooms were also stocked with free tampons and pads #freethetampons and there were free snacks and drinks everywhere!
Overall, the past 6 days have been full of so many good, healthy, inspiring feels. I am inspired to be more diligent in my work with youth and young women, to advocate more publicly about the issues I stand for, and continue in the journey of viewing other women as partners in this fight, not competitors.
P.S After writing this post I listened to Aminatou and Ann’s podcast reviewing their thoughts from the conference. They brought to my attention a few minor issues with the day that I was way too excited to even notice. I hope to continue to work on being critical of what I am consuming, and challenging what seems to be “radical” but really is only adhering to the status quo. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, but I am also thankful for this podcast for challenging some of my initial thoughts.