Black women need a space to be unapologetically black. A space free from judgement, free from masculinity and free from all the things that can weigh a black woman down. We need a space where we can share ideas, cultivate new relationships, feel supported and important, and inspired to strive for more. In this space we can wear whatever we want, sport our favorite hairstyle and embody what it means to be a black woman in America. That is what Power Rising is to me. It’s an oppression-free space of thinkers, doers and leaders in various field of excellence from media, tech, politics, writing, and health.
The 2019 conference kicked off with powerful speakers who helped us explore our black woman narratives. We heard from political leaders like Stacey Abrams and Sen. Kamala Harris along with a slew of black women from the Congressional Black Caucus. These women shared their experiences during our plenary sessions, but the breakouts were much more powerful.
This year the summit was tracked. Women could choose from various modules that spoke about social media, government, education, tech and economics, culture and community. This year there was even a session for high school girls, something that wasn’t offered last year. Each of these breakout sessions were filled with black women from across the country – 38 different states- who shared their professional and personal experiences, which allowed the summit to be more impactful.
It’s easy to attend a summit where you are familiar with recognizable speakers and talent, but this summit prioritizes the lived experiences of everyday black women who are leading in their respective fields. The diversity of voices represented was empowering and the ability to connect with attendees was equally satisfying.
Near the end of the summit there were regional breakouts. These breakouts allowed women in nearby states to share regional challenges and successes and work to identify ways we could cross populate ideas for the future. Further, the breakouts were an opportunity to share regional best practices and provided a space for attendees to plan for organizations and events in their respective state.
Not only was this experience enriching for the soul, but early morning exercises were incorporated to enrich our physical health. Each morning a yoga instructor lead a morning session and there were other opportunities to go on morning walks with women. Additionally, there was a comforting room where women could receive free back and neck massages and a space for them to escape via relaxation amenities.
However, one of the other big highlights of the summit was the entertainment. The closing session ended with Erica Campbell, formerly of the group Mary Mary, and she was nothing short of amazing. Her range in music kept the audience on their feet her entire performance. The summit also did a great job inviting attendees with the opportunity to perform. There were dancers, poets, rappers and singers. And all of these women were attending the summit.
So next year, when you’re looking for the ultimate black women’s empowerment summit? because Power Rising will be knocking at your door.
Kristal Knight is the executive director of Emerge Tennessee, which recruits, trains, and provides a powerful network to Democratic women who want to run for office.