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Women make the world go ’round — in politics and beyond

Author: Gabrielle Bryant - March 26, 2018 - Updated: March 26, 2018

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Gabrielle Bryant

Women are the framework in which our nation is built. We have the power to shift the trajectory of economics and culture, and seemingly anything our hands touch prospers. We’ve always been at the helm of what makes this world go ’round.

From the delivery room, to the boardroom we make it happen.

Beyonce said it best:

Boy you know you love it
How we’re smart enough
To make these millions
Strong enough to bear the children
Then get back to business
Who run the world?
Girls

Following the 2016 presidential election a new surge of women decided to do just that and literally run the world — well, run for office that is. “…There is an unprecedented surge of first-time female candidates, overwhelmingly Democratic, running for offices big and small, from the U.S. Senate and state legislatures to local school boards,” according to Time.com.

This remains true for women of all ethnic backgrounds, millennials and other minority groups. Organizations like VoteRunLead, Emerge Colorado, New Leaders Council Denver and the Colorado Black Women for Political Action are ensuring that women, born naturally and otherwise, have a pathway to office if they so choose.

 

The Honorable Elbra Wedgeworth talks with student about career goals, February 2018

Started in 1977 by Colorado’s first black state senator, Gloria Tanner, CBWPA continues to be be a moving force in Colorado’s political scene. CBWPA Vice President Tamra DeBrady says the organization was founded “to address the lack of black women in the political arena and ensures the black community has a voice and representation on issues and policies impacting our families.” This organization continues to promote and support candidates for office and is behind the careers of state Sens. Rhonda Fields and Angela Williams and state Reps. Janet Buckner and Leslie Herod.

The key here is representation. We become what we see and for women like Rep. Herod, when she started at the Capitol former Rep. Rosemary Marshall showed her it could be done merely by being present. Herod continues to have an admiration for Marshall, describing her as a “force” and an inspiration for why she felt it possible to run for office, win and make a difference all while remaining authentic.

Another woman who also set the stage for black women in Colorado politics and supported Herod’s career is former Denver City Councilwoman Elbra Wedgeworth. Quite humble, yet still no nonsense, she is the only person to have served in all three branches of government.  Wedgeworth started off wanting to help people by becoming a social worker and was strongly encouraged by family, friends and her community to run for office after former City Councilman Hiawatha Davis Jr. stepped down.  She now has a building in Five Points that is her namesake and continues to work in government relations.

When asked about the success of black women in Colorado politics, she says “we have a DNA within us that provides leadership, stability and trust. We stand on the shoulders of Arie Taylor and Wilma Webb, who went through a lot of different issues and were able to provide that groundwork for us.”

We’re often before our time, yet perfectly on time when you take a retrospective look. I can’t imagine what women like Wilma Webb had to endure to accomplish the things that we hold dear to us today, yet often take for granted. Growing up, I never realized the amount of scrutiny, rejection and discrimination she faced just to secure an MLK holiday.  It wasn’t until she spoke to my 2017 Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado leadership class that I learned of her experience and heard from her firsthand what she had to endure, and I’m sure this was the mild version.

I felt guilty for never having known her other accomplishments, for merely seeing her as the wife of former Mayor Wellington Webb. This is a mistake many of us make.

Pigeonholing women into these boxes of mother, spouse and caretaker. Rarely seeing as powerful, national leaders and capable of being more than a wife. In my opinion, this was quite evident in the 2016 presidential election.  Don’t get me wrong; I was no Hillary Clinton super fan.  But based on her professional accomplishments, life experiences and diplomacy, she was the most fit to run the U.S. For whatever reason, that didn’t resonate with men and some women.

There’s a light at the end of this tunnel. As long as women continue running for office and reach higher heights in executive roles and C-suites, eventually things will change for the better. The patriarchy will begin to break down gradually, and those who continue to demean women, trying to hold them back for the genetics they were born with, will be removed from their posts. Just ask Lebsock. Time’s up.

Gabrielle Bryant

Gabrielle Bryant

Gabrielle Bryant is a freelance journalist, host and Emmy Award-winning politics producer. You might recognize her TV work from "Colorado Inside Out" Friday nights on CPT12.