In celebration of women's history month, the Essential Women's Movement for African American Women held its first "Annual Black Women's Shero Summit." The Summit, held on March 8, 2018, featured five women who selflessly risked it all to do what was right. Recognized during the event were Cathy Harris, Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, Tanya Ward Jordan, Arthuretta Holmes-Martin and Marcel Reid. The brave women spoke about abuses within the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Customs Service, Department of Commerce, Internal Revenue Service, and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). They also shared accounts of how employers retaliated against them and harmed their physical, financial and mental well-being.
Cathy Harris, a former Senior Customs Inspector, disclosed to the media the U.S. Customs Service's practice of racially targeting airline passengers. In her book, Flying While Black: A Whistleblower's Story, Ms. Harris, the founder of Customs Employees Against Discrimination (CEADA), cites many incidents of black American travelers being stopped, frisked, body-cavity-searched, detained for hours at local hospitals, forced to take laxatives, bowel-monitored and subjected to racist humiliation. Because of her valiant stand for truth, the Government Accountability Office released an incriminating study exposing Custom's racial profiling practices. Ms. Harris' disclosure also led to the "Civil Rights for International Traveler's Act" and the "Reasonable Search Standards Act" being introduced to reform unconstitutional practices.
Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, author of "No Fear: A Whistleblower's Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA, is a former Senior Policy Analyst for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She blew the whistle on the EPA's failure to act after she reported how a United States mining company harmed the health of South Africa people while it exhumed the African country's vanadium. As a result of her standing for truth, she suffered reprisal. She later filed a lawsuit against her employer. On August 18, 2000, a federal jury found the EPA guilty of violating her civil rights. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo's experience inspired the Notification and Federal Employee Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No Fear Act).
Tanya Ward Jordan, President and Founder of The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C), once served as a lead plaintiff in the Janet Howard, et.al v Department of Commerce, race-based class action complaint. She blew the whistle on widespread racism within the Commerce Department and on the cabinet level department's subjective pay for performance system that disproportionately harmed the economic well-being of African American employees. Ms. Ward Jordan's experiences led to her invaluable input on a bill known as Federal Employee Anti-discrimination Act of 2017, which was introduced by Representative Elijah Cumming. She currently prepares for the release of her upcoming book entitled "17 Steps: A Federal Employee's Guide For Tackling Workplace Discrimination."
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