From Left to Right: Mayor Hazelle P. Rogers, Rep. Wasserman Schultz, Nancy Metayer, Rep. Terri Sewell, Mayor Tamara James

On Sunday, February 25th, NewFM climate justice organizer Nancy Metayer joined a Black History Month panel discussion hosted by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the Cultural Community Center in Hallandale Beach. The BHM event, “From Birmingham to Broward; Black Women Rise Up!” centered the stories of black women community leaders and the role that Black women have played and continue to play in shaping our political landscape.

Nancy spoke about the way that climate issues impact communities of color. “Climate issues impact every part of our lives from the water we drink to the air that we breathe. It’s important to connect climate issues to everyday life because it will not only impact our generation but also generations to come,” said Metayer.

African American Political Figures in Full Force

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz opened the event by honoring the Black women in the room including: Dania Beach Mayor Tamara James, the first African-American woman Mayor of Dania Beach – Bobbie Grace, Lauderdale Lakes Mayor Hazelle P. Rogers and members of the all African-American woman commission of Lauderdale Lakes.

“For generations, African-American women have embodied both strength and resilience… We must honor them,” said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. “It’s [also] important for us to salute modern day local African-American woman who are making a difference.”

The discussion kicked off with a Q&A session with Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell. Rep. Sewell is one of the first women elected to Congress from Alabama and is the first Black woman to ever serve in the Alabama Congressional delegation. Rep. Sewell spoke about her journey to the Alabama delegation. “Women encouraged me to run and women helped me win,” said Rep. Sewell.

Sewell, the first Black valedictorian at Selma High School, is a graduate of Princeton University (BA), Oxford (MA) and Harvard University (JD). She emphasized the impact that community support had on her life. “I am where I am today because of the community that nurtured me… I never felt alone. I always felt like my community was rooting me on.”

Sewell also voiced the need for people in positions of power to use their influence to break down barriers for others. “It’s not enough to be the first this and the first that, it’s about breaking down the doors so that others can come in behind me.”

The event ended with a short panel discussion led by Rep. Wasserman Schultz where Nancy joined Dania Beach Mayor Tamara James, Lauderdale Lakes Mayor Hazelle P. Rogers and Rep. Terri Sewell in a conversation about issues that impact Black communities. For Nancy, the opportunity to join these trailblazers on a panel was an honor that she’ll never forget. “It was beautiful to see unapologetically black women on stage in the powerful roles that they play. Young girls will look at them and say: I can do that too.”