Honoring Nsé Ufot and LaTosha Brown

To honor Nsé Ufot and LaTosha Brown with the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality’s Shirley Chisholm award, we first want to make clear why we chose Chisholm as the namesake for this particular award.

As an intersectional feminist organization, the ERA Coalition/FFWE holds Chisholm in high regard as a woman legislator, the first Black woman legislator elected to Congress, and an avid supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. Her work not only progressed the causes of women, and women of color, but also inspired entire generations of women to run for office. California Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Vice President Kamala Harris are just two prominent elected officials who have cited Chisholm as their inspiration.

Chisholm’s 1970 speech in support of the Equal Rights Amendment is now listed among the top 100 speeches of the 20th Century by American Rhetoric. You can read her full ERA speech on the House floor here.

Let me note and try to refute two of the commonest arguments that are offered against this amendment. One is that women are already protected under the law and do not need legislation. Existing laws are not adequate to secure equal rights for women. Sufficient proof of this is the concentration of women in lower paying, menial, unrewarding jobs and their incredible scarcity in the upper level jobs. If women are already equal, why is it such an event whenever one happens to be elected to Congress?

Shirley Chisholm’s August 10, 1970 speech to Congress in support of the Equal Rights Amendment

In honoring Nsé Ufot and LaTosha Brown with the 2021 Shirley Chisholm Award, we are celebrating the tradition these two Black women are carrying forward by expanding our Democracy and empowering Georgians, Alabamans, and others to vote and take action. The work Nsé and LaTosha did to energize and engage populations of color, and specifically Black voters, and turn them out in record numbers was unparalleled and is now just beginning to be replicated in other states.

Nsé Ufot

Since 2014, The New Georgia Project (NGP) is a nonpartisan organization that has been fighting to register and educate new voters on their rights – borne out of the roll back of several key provisions of the Civil Rights Act in the Supreme Court. This necessary work, now helmed by Nsé as NGP’s CEO, has registered 425,000 Georgians since she joined the organization. It was her work merging civil rights and civic technology that married targeting data, gamification of civic engagement, and even mobile apps, and allowed the organization to register more people in Georgia than ever before.

LaTosha Brown

The ERA Coalition is also honoring LaTosha Brown for her work as the co-founder of Black Voters Matter (BVM), which works to empower, educate, and engage Black voters; teach them to build and maintain organizing structures in their communities; and turn out to vote in all elections. This isn’t just an electoral or campaign strategy though. BVM sees all of this as part of creating power in the Black community, alongside their work to ensure voting rights/access, expand early voting, resist voter ID laws, restore voting rights, and strengthen the Voting Rights Act.

Together, Nsé and LaTosha have inspired countless leaders in their communities and nationwide. With Stacey Abrams, LaTosha and Nsé are credited for increasing Black turnout in Georgia and Alabama in previous election cycles, affecting the ultimate outcomes of elections at the state and national level.

We’re grateful they’re able to join us for the first-ever virtual Living Equality Gala & Awards, and so honored they were willing to accept the Shirley Chisholm Award for the amazing work they do.

We hope you’ll join us to celebrate these dedicated advocates, along with our other deserving honorees on Saturday, April 10 at 8 p.m. ET. You can buy tickets online now.

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