Black Girl Magic: that supernatural tenacity and spirit that Black women uniquely possess, has moved mountains for centuries; the courage of Sojourner Truth; the steadfastness of Harriet Tubman and the audacity of Shirley Chisholm. The descendants of this magic are the three women who created the Black Lives Matter movement, our first lady and many more melanin goddesses who have always been what’s made America great.
In a time when the nation is ideologically divided between both political parties now more than ever — it took a village of black women to remind us that true democracy can still win during this election cycle.
The 2016 Democratic National Convention was a bold declaration of the power of Black women and how much their voices should continue to be elevated as they have held it down for the nation since its inception.
This week was an odyssey for me as my inner-Black feminist soul was revitalized in Philadelphia while partaking in the action of the convention.
With the jumpstart of the Democrats announcing Donna Brazile as interim chair of the party and Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio as permanent chair of the convention — plus Reverend Leah Daughtry now serving for a second time as the convention’s CEO — we witnessed the first time in history three Black women have led a major political party. Words cannot describe how powerful a moment this is for not only the black community — but the entire nation.
For a racial/gender demographic that has been marginalized more than almost every other group, to witness three Black women gain such well-deserved political capital after years of putting in the work was an inspiration.
Such grace and power continued in the words of First Lady Michelle Obama, my Empress of Presidential Black Girl Magic. After a failed attempt from Melania Trump being a little too “inspired” by the First Lady’s words during the Republican National Convention, Mrs. Obama reminded us while delivering her DNC address who the real boss was (in her own words).
I remember being in the arena when the first lady proclaimed, “When they go low, we go high.” Shots fired, get them together, Queen Michelle. It wasn’t just the bold catchphrases that she said that caught the nation’s attention, but her history lesson on how the White House was built by slaves. Every Black person in that arena nodded with a sense of “Let em’ know, Michelle” — clearly they didn’t.
As if my admiration for all-things black girl magic couldn’t have grown even larger, one of the biggest moments of the convention — the presentation of the Mothers of the Movement — brought me to tears of motivation. I say motivation because as I heard the stories of Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin; Geneva Reed-Veal (Sandra Bland); Lucy McBath (Jordan Davis); Gwen Carr (Eric Garner); Cleopatra Pendleton (Hadiya); Maria Hamilton (Dontre); Lezley McSpadden (Michael Brown) and Wanda Johnson, the mother of Oscar Grant — I was reminded by Black mothers that my life still matters. No time on television had I seen such an assembly of grieving Black mothers stand strong and resilient to unite the country behind a progressive platform geared towards saving Black children. Those women made America understand exactly what Black Lives Matter mean to them and why it’s not just a Black issue but a national one. It was seriously one of the most important memories I had during the convention.
And while there was so much Black girl magic that sparkled throughout the week, such as Oscar-nominated actress Angela Bassett paying homage to the Charleston 9, there were the subtle details that also struck a nerve.
There were more Black women out covering this event than I could have ever imagined. Melissa Harris Perry, Tamron Hall, Denise Clay, Cherri Gregg and Jenice Armstrong were some of the outstanding Black women who brought life to the event with their coverage. The arena was filled with an exceptionally large number of Black women delegates from across the nation. Philadelphia had the honor of having the first openly Black trans woman delegate of the DNC, Sharron Cooks, to represent.
In other words, this Democratic National Convention was saved, lead, represented — and slayed — by Black women and I will be the first to formally give them a round of applause!
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Ernest Owens is an award-winning multimedia journalist and editor for Philadelphia Magazine's G Philly. At 24 years old, he is the youngest weekly columnist for a major American city with his iconoclastic column, The Ernest Opinion, for Metro US. His work has been featured in USA Today, The Huffington Post, The Advocate and other media outlets. Later this year, the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists will be awarding Owens their prestigious Trailblazer Award for his innovative, barrier-breaking contributions to media. A graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, he is currently producing and starring in his own television talk show, ErnestlySpeaking!, at Philadelphia Community Access Media, where he is the youngest television host to have a talk show in Philadelphia.