Former First Lady, Michelle Obama and actress, Tracee Ellis Ross during the United State of Women Summit. (photo courtesy of Kristina Dixon)

The USOW 2018 summit held May 5 and 6 at the Shrine Auditorium and locations throughout Los Angeles brought together 6,000 women and allies from across the country for hands on training sessions hosted by community organizations. The inclusive event shined a special spotlight on the power of Black women.

Statistic show Black women voted over 90 percent for Hilary Clinton and were the determining factor in the highly charged recent Alabama Congressional race where they turned out a victory for Doug Jones. Yet during a panel entitled “By Trust You Meant Support, Right? The Importance of Investing in Black Women,” moderated by CNN political contributor Angela Rye, the need for more action was evident.

Panelist included Aja Brown, mayor of Compton, LaTosha Brown of Black Voters Matter Fund, Glynda C. Carr co-founder of Higher Heights, Alicia Garza, Black Futures Lab and Black Lives Matter and  Bre Campbell, Executive Director, Activist, Actress, Trans Sistas of Color Project-Detroit. The ladies discussed the need for the DNC to do better by black women candidates and appealed for a call to action.

Carr of Higher Heights spoke with the Sentinel regarding Black women as she stated, “for me democracy doesn’t begin and end on election day, it frankly begins. At Higher Heights, we say we are building a national network of Black women and allies to elect black women, influence elections and advance progressive policy.”

After the Alabama Doug Williams victory hashtags like #ThankBlackWomen and #TrustBlackWomen went viral, sparking a conversation about Black women’s power. Statistics show Black women are trendsetters and trailblazers who routinely shape American culture and politics, but still underrepresented at decision-making tables. The panel posed questions like “How do we ensure “thanking” Black women means investing in them? How do we ensure “trusting” Black women means listening to them when they’re advocating for themselves and their communities?”

Another highlight and call to action came from Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, as she encouraged women to create policy and sign the Reform LA Jails petition which she launched to create accountability and transparency within Los Angeles law enforcement.

Another notable moment came from Valarie Jarrett, former Obama senior adviser who stated “United State of Women has grown from a single event into a force that is helping to grow the women’s movement and empower women leaders across the country,” said Valerie Jarrett, who is co-chair of United State of Women. “The momentum that led to today’s successful event will continue far into the future.”

Former First Lady, Michelle Obama and actress, Tracee Ellis Ross during the Unites States of Women Summit. (photo courtesy of Kristina Dixon)

Next, former First Lady Michelle Obama, created motivation and excitement as she served conscious conversation moderated by Tracey Ellis-Ross, where she expressed her frustration with men “failing up.”

After the summit, the United State of Women launched four new programs as part of this new organizing initiative:

  • The Ambassador Program will support local leaders who are ready to step up and run United State of Women organizing projects in their communities. Selected activists will receive the tools, data and community sharing needed to set goals, organize and win concrete steps for gender equality in their local community.
  • Summer Community Meetings will be hosted by Ambassadors nationwide to organize women and allies who want to take action for gender equality.
  • USOW Digital Force Fellows will recruit budding content creators and pair them with media platforms looking to drive action, focused on the goal of owning the internet and social channels in support of gender equality.
  • The Online Action Hub will track nationwide activity and connect activists.

Featured speakers throughout the summit included Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Tiffany Lopez, Jeanette Antolin of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team; Actress and Activist Connie Britton; Journalist and Editor Elaine Welteroth moderating a conversation with Actress and Activist Yara Shahidi, Activist, Educator, Writer, and Co-Founder of Campaign Zero Brittany Packnett, and U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and First Lady Amy Wakeland; Journey Jamison, Teen Gun Violence Activist, and Mei-Ling Ho-Shing and Tyah-Amoy Roberts, Parkland Student Activists; and many more. Learn more at