CTBW 2020

Happy Anniversary CT Black Women!

This month of February, CT Black Women (CTBW) celebrates two years of remarkable work, building with Black women!

Let’s take a look back at 2020,

2020 called forth resourcefulness in unimaginable ways because of it’s extreme unsettling challenges.

When COVID-19 pandemic hit, all over the world, it shut us down. In this country, we were required to shelter in place, social distance and wear masks. Many jobs mandated their employees work from home. Others could not. They were deemed essential workers, their jobs were to show up! They were and still are ones required to ensure all our basic needs be met. Still others, too many, found themselves without jobs and means to support themselves and their families.

To help, CTBW alongside Moral Monday CT (MMCT) started a rapid response group. This group allowed justice workers to know what was needed and what was being done to assist with vital needs like, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), food distribution, mental health services, rent relief…etc. Also, it provided a space where those on the ground serving could debrief, breathe deeply, speak and be heard, listen and be encouraged and just connect to our own humanity.

Participates include: Unitarian Universalist Society:East – The Rev. Josh Pawelek, CT Citizen Action Group – Ann Pratt, Unitarian Society of Hartford – Cathy Rion Starr, United State of Women – Brittney Yancy, 32BJ SEIU – Rochelle Palache, Unidad Latina en Acción – John Lugo/Catherine John, Black and Brown United – Catherine John, Hartford Mutual Aid – Constanza Segovia, Kamora’s Cultural Corner – Kamora Herrington, CT Muslims- Iman Bilial Ansari, CONNECT – The Rev. Dr. Anthony Bennett, Trinity College Office of Spiritual and Religious Life – The Rev. Allison Read and Women’s March CT – Dr. Sarah Raskin.

Feeding 2020

We partnered with: Moral Monday CT, Trinity College Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, Trinity College Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, Chartwells Higher ED (Dining Services) @ Trinity College, Hartford Mutual Aid, Lilly’s Sin Barrera/Lilly Without Barriers, McKinney Homeless Shelter and Hartford Catholic Worker.

This team was able to provide a hot deal twice a week to 20 families for 20 weeks. We are happy to say we have extended this program until June 2021.

MMCT and CTBW were in conversation with activists, advocates, and organizers across the globe, from Brazil to New Zealand, concerning challenges, best safe practices for protests and how to support the work and each other during the pandemic.

Unidad Latinos en Acción (ULA) introduced the first Virtual/Caravan/On-The-Ground Rally. CTBW was excited to participate in this spectacular original call to action!

Black Lives Matter

On May 25, 2020 George Floyd was lynched publicly by Police. This ignited an uprising of Black Lives Matter world-wide. Pandemic or no pandemic, hundreds of thousands poured in the streets everyday for weeks on end.

CTBW co-led several socially distanced protests and participated in countless others.

CTBW’s Pamela Selders and Janee Woods with Bishop john Selders and State Representative Robyn Porter on the steps of The CT Capitol during a Black Lives Matter Rally.

Melinda L. Johnson of the YWCA-Hartford Region, organized the very dignified, moving and symbolic observance: A Black Lives Matter Public Funeral. CTBW was honored to have been a contributor and co-sponsor.

Police Accountability

The unabashed cold-blooded murder of George Floyd disturbed millions.

State Senator Gary Winfield had been holding his colleagues’ feet to the fire on Police Accountablility for 5 years with little to no movement until now. Now all of Connecticut became undaunted in addressing Police violence legislatively.

CTBW moved swiftly as well in addressing the outbreak of “Karen” attacks happening all over the nation and here in CT. We formed a Cohort-Coalition and began conversations ending in an “Amy Cooper“ section of the Police Accountability Bill being included.  The members of the Cohort Coalition were: PoliticaCT – Janee Woods, USOW – Brittney Yancey, 32BJ SEIU – Rochelle Palache, YWCA – Melinda Johnson, Compass Youth Collaborative – Ayesha Clark.

The legislature closed due to Covid. It was now time to open up.

Moral Monday CT boldly stepped up and demanded our Governor and legislators respond to the public outcry of protests in small towns and urban centers across the state. Until the they set a date to re-open at the Governor’s request and make Police accountability 1st on its agenda, MMCT would be in a Solemn Fast on the grounds of the Capitol.

MMCT, CTBW, members from The Unitarian Universalist Society:East along with many faith leaders, people of faith and conscience started the Fast on June 8th from Sunup to Sundown. On the 11th day of the Fast, the Governor and the leadership of the CT Legislature announced they’d agreed to re-open. Within a few weeks, the special session ended with the passing of a groundbreaking Police Accountability Bill due to the outstanding work and performance of State Senator Gary Winfield leading the charge with immense contributions from State Representative Robyn Porter and State Representative Ann Hughes.

The Vote and the Election

2020 also was a national election year of great consequence. CTBW began organizing very early to ensure the Black Vote for the state. We establishing CTBW Vote Cohort – Coalition with: MMCT – Pamela Selders, MMCT/Politica CT – Janee Woods, USOW – Brittney Yancy, 32BJ SEIU – Rochelle Palache, Open Communities Alliance – Taniqua Hughley, Hamden Action Now -Rhonda Caldwell, Unidad Latina en Acción – Catherine John, Black and Brown United – Catherine John.

In preparation for the CT State Presidential Primary CTBW with MMCT & The League of Women Voters of CT hosted an initial virtual conversation explaining the absentee ballot application and the absentee ballot process.

We hosted a celebratory virtual gathering with State Senator Winfield and State Representative Porter discussing the successful passing of the Police Accountability Bill and the nuances of the “Amy Cooper” section.

During the summer months,  threats to our Postal Service soared in the attempt to suppress the vote. CTBW joined with MMCT, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Common Cause CT and others for a Press Event and Action at Constitution Plaza in front of the Post Office, August 24, 2020, Downtown Hartford.  Commitments were made to fight the good fight to resist the efforts of the Trump Administration.

This was a very confusing election season with the combination of COVID, national threats, etc, people had many questions and concerns. In response, MMCT, The League of Women Voters of CT and CTBW hosted weekly virtual conversations (four consecutive weeks) where all questions regarding the vote were fielded both locally and nationally.

CTBW Vote Coalition hosted an inspiring virtual event by Black Women for Black Women, “What’s Driving You to the Polls.”

Frankie Beverly and Maze, sang a song lyric “Joy and pain…like sunshine and rain”. Couple more dollops of pain and that was 2020. It was a tough year. We mourn the loses of too many people we loved. We are thankful for the mercies each day that offers us the opportunities to devote ourselves to the work and one another on this journey.

Come what may, CT Black Women remains committed.

Thank you for your support.


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