If the future is female, what of the present? Former editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue and now Black-ish writer and Ms. Foundation Gloria Awards honoree, Elaine Welteroth says, “As millennial women, we exist in this interesting intersection between the past and the future and we bridge generations. On one side, you have Gloria [Steinem] who has worked for generations to dismantle systems of inequity and then you have young people like Yara Shahidi and Marley Dias, rising up and rebuilding a new system. I see myself as a platform to connect these generations and now we’re working together to create the future we’ve been dreaming of. We’re going to live to see that come to pass.”
Thursday night was a great night to be black, brilliant and a woman. The Ms. Foundation’s 30th Annual Gloria Awards: A Salute to Women of Vision took place in New York City, with many of our faves in attendance.
The Root’s very own, Danielle Young attended the event and got the chance to chat with Teresa C. Younger, president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. She told her, “We’re happy to announce that we are centering women and girls of color in our work, moving forward and tonight, all 6 honorees are black women. A little #BlackGirlMagic is going to be happening tonight. In order to make change in this country, in order to get go greater equity, we all have to be a part of it.”
Younger has always wanted to make the world a better place. From growing up as a Girls Scout in North Dakota to now being at the helm of the Ms. Foundation, she proves that there’s nothing black women can’t do!
This year, the Gloria Awards—so named for Ms. magazine co-founder and legendary activist Gloria Steinem—paid tribute to Academy Award-nominated director Ava DuVernay and award-winning journalist, Elaine Welteroth.
Welteroth told The Root, “I don’t know that I can put into words what this means. It is beyond surreal. I’m giddy and energized,” As Young chatted with Welteroth on the red carpet, a choir of black women in all white walked through the room, singing in a beautiful harmony, draping their chat in literal black girl magic. “It is something that you never quite feel ready for or deserving enough of because these women have dedicated their whole lives to the struggle of women’s equality.”
Also honored were Monica Simpson of women-of-color reproductive-justice collective Sistersong, who says, “Black women have been the backbone of the feminist movement since the beginning of time. We can go back to the Combahee River Collective! It feels great that our leadership is being respected;” Shannan Reaze of Atlanta Jobs With Justice; Joanne Smith, founder and executive director of Girls for Gender Equity; and 13-year-old Marley Dias, the founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks.
Reaze told The Root, “This isn’t a new arena for me. I’ve been doing this work for 15 years. It’s about many of us that have been working in this space are finally getting the spotlight we deserve. This movement has always been held up by the backs of black women and the oppression and struggles we’ve experienced, it’s just that white women have had more ability to step into the front line that we had.”
Dias sagely said in her acceptance speech:
In the same way that we know that we must all be feminists and we must all be anti-racist, we must all be champions for black girls. When black girls succeed, we all succeed. Being honored here tonight means a lot to me because the champions for equity are women. In the tradition of Ida B. Wells, we are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Now in its 30th year, the Gloria Awards “recognize leaders who have made an indelible impact on the gender justice movement at the local, state, and national level.” Welteroth, who was honored with the Marie C. Wilson Emerging Leader Award, named after the former CEO and president of the foundation to “recognize young, trailblazing feminists,” told the assembled guests:
The work of my generation and the next is built on the backs of women like Marie C. Wilson who this award was named after, whose work challenged the status quo before there were stages for it, Women who stood for women before it was the trendy thing to do. Before there were these viral rallying cries known as hashtags that showcased the power of our collective voice.
DuVernay received the Woman of Vision Award, which honors feminist leaders who create positive change. #MeToo Movement founder Tarana Burke introduced DuVernay, who said, “I’m honored to work shoulder to shoulder with all of you who have let go of the toxic environments that do not serve us, to create the spaces for ourselves that are meant to be.”
The Gloria Award were a space to be inspired; on the red carpet, Welteroth gushed: “I don’t know how to describe the excitement of being black, female and being in a moment like this. I keep getting chills. There’s an electric energy in this room,”
The Glow Up tip: For more information about the Ms. Foundation, please visit forwomen.org.