The Howard University Ideas Festival opened with a prayer, urging the audience to stay strong through these turbulent and often uncertain times. Subsequently, faith and steadfastness were the theme of the event.
On Friday morning, attendees gathered in the School of Business auditorium for a book signing and discussion with the Colored Girls: Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Reverend Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore, authors of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics. The book follows the lives of the four women and offers a history of the United States from their perspectives as people who have been involved in politics for almost five decades. Brazile calls it a “contemporary history book.”
The discussion was moderated by Symone Sanders, former Press Secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders and a frequent CNN commentator. They began by discussing the publishing process of the book and the trials they went through getting it finished, despite being professionals in their fields for decades. The book apparently began as an HBO series, an idea that was scrapped by the network. “I’ve never known you four to need permission from anybody,” said Sanders. Then, after deliberation, they began working on a book, with each author writing her section independently.
The tribulations didn’t stop there, however. As with any group endeavor, the relationships of the four women were tested as well. Brazile was working on another book simultaneously, something that almost splintered the close-knit group. Brazile’s book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, detailed her time as DNC Chair during the 2016 election. “The Democratic party was under attack,” she said. “We couldn’t tell our truth, and when I can’t fight you, I will write about you.”
Of course, the dispute between the four women was eventually settled and the book was published. For the remainder of the event, questions were raised about the future of political activism amongst black women, especially young black women. “Mentoring can’t just start with people our age,” said Moore. “Mentoring the generation after you is something any of us can do, and something we have the responsibility to do.”
The discussion frequently returned to the importance of history, as well. “It is important for young people to know our history, I was stunned that so many young people were uninformed about Jesse Jackson’s historic presidential campaigns,” said Rev. Daughtry.
The Ideas Festival is a relatively new addition to the Homecoming events slot, and the organization of the event makes that clear. Many other speakers were invited, but didn’t show up or got cancelled close to the date of the event. The event also coincided with the Yardfest concert so student turnout was slim. However, the discussion with the Colored Girls was lively and involved, routinely circling back to the future of political activism. “We are proud of the women who came before us who dared to make a difference,” said Brazile. “And we work for the next generation of daring women.”