In 1619, a Black woman was the first enslaved African documented in America. They called her Angela. She survived war and capture in West Africa, a hundred mile forced march to the shore, the Middle Passage, and a pirate battle at sea, only to arrive in the colony of Virginia and have her name stolen too.1 Angela, first recorded as ‘Angelo a Negar,’ was taken from Angola and we don’t know much else about her.2 But we do know that from the moment she took her first step on this stolen land, the dream of Black freedom was born.
It’s been 400 years and Black women are still leading the fight for freedom. America has yet to contend with the legacy of slavery or offer reparations—but Black women aren’t waiting on America. And neither is Color Of Change. We’ve been building Black political power in a way that centers Black women in everything we do. Every campaign we win, event we hold, or narrative we shift is the result of Black women refusing to wait.
From bailing Black mamas out of jail and ending the money bail industry, to organizing Black women into political office and hosting Black Women’s Brunches—none of Color Of Change’s brilliant work, led by Black women for Black freedom, would be possible without the contributions of Color Of Change members. We are in a crucial moment to leverage our resources as a community and invest in the longevity of independent Black organizations. Can you help?
Much has changed since 1619 but for the past 400 years, Black people have been resisting the exploitation of their bodies for wealth—through labor and economic exploitation, appropriation and misrepresentation of our culture in media, and mass incarceration.
Institutions like the Cotton Exchange in New York City drove the American economy during slavery and it is still financial institutions and major industries like Wall St, Hollywood, the prison industrial complex, bail insurance companies, and private equity firms that profit the most from the exploitation of Black bodies. Relying on these same institutions to sustain our movements won’t get us free. That’s why Color Of Change doesn’t take any financial contributions from corporations. The donations of our members fuel our collective work to dismantle white supremacy.
Black women have never held our breath waiting for America to address the legacy of slavery. We’ve held down our families and entire communities. Color Of Change has supported Black women protesting in the streets, holding District Attorney’s accountable, fighting for the right to wear our hair naturally, and across so many more issues that are important to US. Despite centuries of violent oppression Black people have got each other, always have, and always will. Let’s claim this anniversary to celebrate the resilience of our people and 400 years of daring to dream of freedom in the face of unprecedented oppression
Until justice is real,
–Clarise, Rashad, Arisha, Scott, Erika, Malachi, Marybeth, Marena, Madison, Leonard, Tamar, and the rest of the Color Of Change team