Black Women's Political Action Committee
Our Proud HistoryIn the fall of 1982, the now retired Judge Una H.R. Keenon was defeated in her quest to be elected to the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court. At that time, there was such hope and enthusiasm surrounded her candidacy that it became the inspiration for a group of women to convene in a brainstorming session at the home of Honorable Representative Barbara H. Boyd to analyze Una Keenon’s defeat and to strategize for future campaigns. Why was it that women were the backbone of other successful campaigns, but when a woman ran for elected office could not get support? It was clear that political reciprocity had been reserved for male candidates only. This dilemma became a rallying point and with wisdom, vision, courage, and hope for change, eight women met. The meeting resulted in the birth of the first Black Women’s Political Action Committee (BWPAC) in the state of Ohio (affectionately called “The PAC”).
The founding members who met in early 1983 to discuss how Black women could impact critical issues through elected and appointed leadership were the late Katherine Adams, Judge Patricia Ann Blackmon, and Honorable Barbara H. Boyd, the late Shirley Hawk, Retired Judge Sara J. Harper, Retired Judge Una H.R. Keenon, Dr. Denise McCray and Phyllis Burton-Scott. On April 2, 1983, executive board members were sworn in by the Retired Judge Jean Muriel Capers. This historical ceremony was held in the lounge of “The Park” at the home now (Reserve Square), and was attended by over forty (40) individuals. Later the Spring of 1983, founding member, Barbara H. Boyd was the first Black woman elected to Cleveland Heights City Council. The founding members realized the experience they gained while supporting other candidates could be used to elect women to public office. They recognized the lives of minority women would be significantly enhanced encouraging and facilitating participation in politics and government. The mission is now accomplished by providing financial and tactical support to women interested in serving for public office.
The first candidate’s forum sponsored by the Black Women’s Political Action Committee was held in August 1984 and continues to be an annual September event today. During the past thirty years, the BWPAC has sponsored Mayoral Debates, an annual Black History Month Event honoring women in government, labor or the private sector. The “PAC” has been instrumental in electing African-American women to the Ohio Senate, Ohio House of Representatives, State and Local School Boards, the Court of Appeals, Municipal and County Judgeships, and serve as Councilwomen in Cleveland and surrounding communities. Additionally, our members have been appointed to positions as magistrates, bailiffs, administrators and Clerk of Courts. They also serve as officers or members of local and national boards and commissions and actively participate as volunteers in numerous local, state and national campaigns. The “PAC” is recognized as political force, whose lobbying efforts and successful.
We share leadership because our members are committed to high level of activism and participation. We depend on the talents of each member to fulfill our mission through nurturing, support and mutual respect for each other. “Where there is unity, there is strength”. Membership in the BWPAC is available only through the sponsorship of a current member. Prospective members are evaluated on their commitment and involvement in the community on economic political and social issues that are important to Black Women.
The BWPAC began as a hope for change. The organization has blossomed into a strong, visible and powerful vehicle that ensures the voices of Black Women.