The MN Trust Black Women and Girls Town Hall was established in 2018, after Dr. Brittany Lewis, The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, the African American Leadership Forum, and Hope Community, Inc., partnered with the national African American Policy Forum (AAPF) to bring the Breaking the Silence Town Hall Series to Minneapolis and St. Paul. Held at the Walker Art Center on Saturday, April 13th this first of its kind congressional style event served over 200 community participants featuring four issue-focused panels that amplified the voices of Black women and girls in the areas of housing, education, criminal justice, and health and wellness for the purpose of highlighting policy solutions on behalf of Black women and girls.
The structure of the town hall was set up to give local decision makers a chance to listen to women and girls directly as they shared the challenges they experience on a daily basis –in their homes, schools, and communities—for the purpose of identifying opportunities for intervention. The day also consisted of Black women vendors, performing artists, and wellness services to ensure a dynamic and safe space. The MN Trust Black Women and Girl Town Hall Committee worked with over 25 Black women leaders from across the Twin Cities to plan and execute this innovative one day summit, which aimed to move from public testimony to policy change for Black women and girls.
From start to finish, the MN Trust Black Women Town Hall amplified the triumphant and daunting realities that Black women renters, homeowners, mothers and caregivers, educators, and healers experience in Minnesota. These realities were raised through issue-focused panels that centered (1) Housing, (2) Criminal Justice, (3) Health and Wellness, and (4) Education. Attendees were also gifted with performances from local artists Solo Star, Ashli Henderson, Thandisizwe Jackson, and Helen Mohammad. Every panel, every presentation, every testimony, and every performance given helped to uplift, celebrate, and actualize the power, wisdom, talent, and beauty that exist within Black women.
Furthermore, the panels were among the most powerful aspects of the town hall, yielding both tears and laughter throughout the day. Most importantly, it provided Black women with the space to not only share their personal stories but to also proclaim solutions to the many issues affecting Black women and girls.