The California Black Media Political Playback: Black Advocates Celebrate Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and several California organizations are celebrating trailblazing women making history in our state.

Photo by Leroy Hamilton


Tanu Henry and Maxim Elramsisy | California Black Media 

March is Women’s History Month, and several California organizations are celebrating trailblazing women making history in our state — whether it’s recognizing the record-setting number of women who are state constitutional officers or lauding the unprecedented number of women serving in the Legislature (50 out of 120). 

Last week, the Black Women’s Collective kicked off Women’s History Month with an event organized to help build an Economic Action Plan for Black Women. It brought together experts in policymaking, labor, economic development, and entrepreneurship. 

“Black women serve as breadwinners in 80% of Black households in California with over 70% headed by single mothers,” said Kellie Todd Griffin, President and CEO, California Black Women’s Collective Empowerment Institute. Griffin was citing statistics from a report on the State of Black Women in California from 2018 and 2022. 

“Typically, Black women have higher labor force participation rates than other women, meaning a higher share of Black women are either employed or unemployed and looking for work,” Griffin continued.  “However, the economic safety net is not secure as Black Women makes less than most of their counterparts making .55 cents to White males, which is one of the lowest in the nation equally the wage gap in Mississippi. California falls short of the national rate at .63 cents.” 

Panelists at the event included Los Angeles City Councilmember Heather Hutt (CD10); Yvonne Wheeler, President, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor; Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, President and CEO, Center by Lendistry; and Denise Pines, Co-Founder and CEO, Tea Botanics and Women in the Room Productions. Moderators were Griffin and Regina Wilson, Executive Director, California Black Media.

In Historic Los Angeles Ceremony, Malia M. Cohen Sworn in as Top State Accountant

Malia Cohen (left), with her husband Warren Pulley (center),  was sworn in as California State Controller by Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass (right) at Los Angeles City Hall on February 23, 2023. (Maxim Elramsisy | California Black Media)

It was a history-making moment as Malia M. Cohen was inaugurated the 33rd California State Controller at Los Angeles City Hall on Feb. 23.  During the swearing-in, she was flanked by her husband Warren Pulley while Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass administered the oath. 

As California’s chief fiscal officer and top accountant, the State Controller’s office is an independent watchdog overseeing the disbursement of state and local funds, including one of the nation’s largest public pension funds.

Cohen, a San Francisco native will be the first Black person, and second woman Controller, as the state continues to make an intentional effort to break gender and racial barriers. Two of the top four largest cities, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are led by Black women Mayors, Karen Bass and London Breed respectively, and the state also elected its first Black in Secretary of State, Shirley Weber, who previously served under an appointment by Gov. Newsom.

“Mayor Bass and Congresswoman Lee: I know that you know all too well, that no matter the campaign budget difference, no matter how much they outspend you, leadership can’t be bought,” Cohen said in her inaugural speech. 

California Black Freedom Fund Hosts Panel Discussions in Oakland

On Feb. 28 in Oakland, the California Black Freedom Fund (CBFF) hosted an event titled “Strengthening Democracy and Building Black Futures” followed by a reception for guests who attended. 

Photo caption: CBM Staff/ Reimagining Democracy panel at the Black Freedom Fund listening session Feb.28:(L to R) Steve Phillips and Angela Glover Blackwell (Founder in Residence at  PolicyLink), moderated by Lateefah Simon (president of the Meadow Fund).

The event included two panel discussions centered around the need for philanthropy to commit resources to building and sustaining a just, racially diverse, equitable and inclusive civil society. 

“Civil society is the basis upon which you have a democracy, and civil society needs to be informed. It needs to be about achieving something. It needs to reflect the broader society,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder in Residence, Policy Link, who presented during one of the panel discussions. 

CBFF is a “five-year, $100 million initiative to ensure that Black power-building and movement-based organizations have the sustained investments and resources they need to eradicate systemic and institutional racism,” according to the organization’s website. 

In April 2022, CBFF named Marc Philpart its Executive Director, a leader with broad experience in social advocacy working with grassroots and community organizations. 

Panelists at the event included Blackwell; author Steve Phillips (Brown Is the New White); Lateefah Simon (president of the Meadow Fund); James Herard (Executive Director of Lift Up Contra Costa); Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker (District 1 Antioch City Council); Kavon Ward (CEO/Founder of Where Is My Land); and James Woodson (Executive Director of California Black Power Network. 

Californians Impacted by Winter Storms Get Extended Tax Deadline

Both the state and federal governments are offering some relief to Californians impacted by winter storms in January and February. 

In addition to allowing qualifying state residents to make deductions for disaster losses, last week Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state tax deadline for those affected by the winter storms will be October 16, 2023. 

“As communities across the state continue recovering from the damage caused by the winter storms, California is working swiftly to help recovering Californians get back on their feet,” said Newsom. 

The extension aligns with Biden administration adjustments to the IRS tax deadline for people affected by winter storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides in the following counties: Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Kings, Lake, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba. 

For filing instructions and more details on eligibility, visit the California Franchise Tax Board. 

Mayor Karen Bass Endorses “Friend for Decades” Rep. Barbara Lee

Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass endorsed her former colleague and “friend for decades,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12), in her bid to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein who is not seeking another term.  

“I’ve seen her leadership firsthand. Her work in a divided government to secure billions of dollars in COVID relief for underserved communities is just one example of the type of principled and tenacious leadership she will bring,” Bass tweeted.  

Both alums of the California Assembly, Bass and Lee served together for nearly 11 years as two of three Black women members of California’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. The other Black woman is Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-43). 

Emerge California Announce Black Woman as New Board Chair 

Emerge California, an Oakland-based organization that recruits and trains women in the Democratic Party to run for political office, announced it has appointed Rhodesia Ransom to chair its Board of Directors. 

“I’m excited to step into this role to lead our Board of Directors as we welcome Emerge California’s Class of 2023 – the most diverse class in organization’s history,” said Ransom, who joins four other board members, including Julie Waters, Board Treasurer, and Jacqueline Piccini, Board Secretary.

Founded in 2002, Emerge California has trained over 800 women political candidates. The organization prides itself on a win rate of nearly 70 % and, last year, there were 125 alumnae of its training program on the November ballot, including Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, State Controller Malia Cohen, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and seven state legislators.

SoCalGas Customers Can Apply for Hardship Assistance 

Responding to spiraling inflation and a winter hike in gas prices, SoGalGas is offering hardship assistance to its customers that have been hit hardest. 

 “SoCalGas is stepping up to help customers in need with charitable donations of $10 million in shareholder funding to help customers with bill assistance and to bolster community resources for those who may be struggling financially,” the company said in a press release last week. 

The assistance will be distributed through three channels: $5 million through the Gas Assistance Fund administered by United Way for “Income Qualified Customers”; $4 million through the company’s Fueling our Communities program, a community feeding program organized by local food banks and nonprofits; and $1 million to restaurant owners through its Restaurant Cares Resilience Fund.