The Mississippi’s Women’s Economic Security Initiative hosted two events today, in honor of National Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.
The events, called 2019 Coffee Con, are part of a national push to encourage conversations about key issues impacting Black women in the United States.
2019 Coffee Con gatherings were held in Jackson and Gulfport.
Black women’s Equal Pay Day marks the day black women finally catch up to white non-hispanic male wages from the year before. This year, it’s August 22, more than eight months from the year before.
In Mississippi, this problem is an every day struggle for black women as they only make 56 cents on the dollar of a white male who’s non-hispanic.
Cassandra Welchin, Lead Organizer/Co-Convener of MS-BWR and Co-Founder of MS Women’s Economic Security Initiative (MWESI), helped organize the Jackson Coffee Con.
“If she’s not getting what she needs then her family is affected by that. She can’t pay for child care. She’s losing money and she can’t pay for rent. She can’t just make ends meet.”
As each year goes by, these same women hope the Mississippi Legislature will pass a much-needed women’s equal pay law. According to House of Representative Alyce Clarke, Mississippi is the only state without one, and she’s been trying for years to change that.
“It’s been many times… and we feel good… we think we’ve got it and then we look around and there are some people that we were expecting to support it, they forget they said they were going to do that.”
Along with equal wages, this holiday is also about recognizing women who work in non-traditional jobs – like Dianne Smith who found her love for being a truck driver, after escaping an abusive relationship.
“It’s really easy for women to be truck drivers. You dress any kind of way, you can still get your nails and hair done and all that… and still be pretty at the same time.”
Even though Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is celebrated one day of the year, Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable is hoping the awareness will cause a much need discussion about equality for women in the workplace and the Magnolia state.
“We’re going to local municipalities, talking with mayors and asking them to push for an ordinance inside of their cities… and so Jackson was the first one that got an equal pay designation.”