We Don’t Talk About Black Women Enough: A Speech by Sophia Tekola

Seattle Central College Black Student Union Executive of Communication, Sophia Tekola, delivers speech about the under representation of black women in the BLM movement.

The abandoned Seattle Police Department East Precinct on Capitol Hill, defaced as the

Jacob Dickson

The abandoned Seattle Police Department East Precinct on Capitol Hill, defaced as the “Seattle People Department East Precinct” decorated with a sign that reads “Power & Equality”.

In front of a crowd of hundreds gathered around a stage in front of the abandoned Seattle East Police Precinct on Capitol Hill, several black women activists and leaders spoke out on a range of topics for three hours on the afternoon of Saturday, Jun. 13. 

Sophia Tekola, the Seattle Central College Black Student Union Executive of Communication, was one of the last to speak, and ended with a call to action to remember the many black women who have been killed by United States police in recent years.  The call to action was the second of two poems that Tekola delivered on stage.

Some of the topics discussed during the event included reminding people that the blocked off zone in Capitol Hill is not a block party, discouraging protests that do not support the movement, and decrying both the media and officials for misrepresenting the protests, as well as hope for community reform.

Sophia was one of eleven black women that spoke over the three hours, from around 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.  The event, “Black is Beautiful: Femme,” was organized by the Harriet Tubman Foundation For Safe Passage in collaboration with Revolution Staging as part of the Captiol Hill protests over police brutality. 

Digital flyer for Black is Beautiful : Femme, an event organized by the Harriet Tubman Foundation for Safe Passage. (harriettubmanfoundationforsafepassage.org)

Initially dubbed the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), some demonstrators are now moving away from this title and rebranding the area the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), with the hopes that the new title will better represent their goals as a movement. 

A sign in front of the Capitol Hill police station reading, “Welcome To Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” was removed shortly before the speeches on June 13.

The CHOP protesters have made three main demands, each of which has been painted on the side of the abandoned Police Precinct building. 

  1. Defund the Seattle Police Department by 50% 
  2. Fund Community Restorative Justice, Housing, Health Care,
  3. Freedom for all Protesters 

Leading up to her poem Tekola spoke at length about how black women have been overlooked for the role they play in many modern movements, both as victims and activists.  The Me Too and the Black Lives Matter movements were both started by black women.  The Me Too was started by Tarana Burke, while Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi are the three founders of Black Lives Matter.  Before reciting her poem, Tekola said to the gathered crowd, “Continue to do the research, and the history, and say the names.”