In an age where public discourse and identity politics would have us believe that we are at odds with our neighbors, in Lamar, South Carolina, Darnell Byrd-McPherson was elected the first African American woman mayor. This blog discusses what influenced this achievement, including her participation in BUILD’s Equity Leaders Action Network (ELAN).
Equity Leaders Action Network Fellow Wins Race For Mayor In Lamar, South Carolina
By Mariana Florit, Communications Director at BUILD Initiative
A year after Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president, record numbers of women ran for office. Ten months before the 2016 election, only 1,000 women reached out to Emily’s List to consider running for office or getting involved in other ways. But since the 2016 election, over 22,000 women have connected with Emily’s List. People of color, LGBTQ, immigrants, refugees, and non-Christians made up the list of winners in the 2017 elections. And at the BUILD Initiative, we are proud to say we are partnering with strong leaders to be voices for equity in communities.
In Lamar, South Carolina, Equity Leaders Action Network (ELAN) fellow Darnell Byrd-McPherson (above) was elected as the first African-American woman mayor. In an age where public discourse and identity politics would have us believe that we are at odds with our neighbors, Darnell’s running platform was simple: she wants to unify the community.
As the Executive Director of Darlington County First Steps, Darnell lives her passion for children. She attributes her life’s work to her mother, Doris Byrd (pictured at left). Doris was a trailblazer as the first Black woman to serve on the Town Council. She had a strong sense of what it meant to care for and support children. “I watched my mother throw birthday parties for children when their parents couldn’t afford them. She made them clothes. She was a part of the community, and even though she was very soft-spoken, the community listened to her.” Doris opened the door into early childhood and politics, and left Darnell with a principle that she applies to her work every day: people are part of solutions in any community. “If there is a problem, let’s fix it. Don’t come to me complaining. Start a commission. Join the task force.”
Darnell attributes part of her recent success in the Lamar mayoral campaign to the influence of the Equity Leaders Action Network. The ELAN has been working since 2015 to advance racial equity in early childhood systems. ELAN fellows have sought to promote equity in the areas of health, early learning and family support as well as to influence state-level policy. “The ELAN opened my eyes to all of the issues that people face. It has had a direct impact on how I lead and do my work.”
The Equity Leaders Action Network is building strong leaders for equity by:
- Increasing the ability of each ELAN fellow to influence others and take actions that lead to the reduction of inequities, e.g., targeted funding, policies, programs for racially diverse children, their families, and communities.
- Increasing the ability of ELAN fellows to reduce racial animus by managing difficult conversations, and creating opportunities to interact with racially diverse beneficiaries.
Increasing the ability of fellows to communicate about inequities in state policies, programs, funding, and services with targeted recommendations that measurably reduce inequity.
- Darnell’s work in the ELAN has had a significant impact on changing men’s health outcomes and in building racial equity into state policies. Read about this work here.
Article October 14, 2021
Through an interview with Jackie Anderson from the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) , alongside Alexander Gagnon, and Kaitlin Ferrick, with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF), this document highlights the PN-3 work underway in Wisconsin
Improving Birth Outcomes: Strengthening Awareness of and Support for State and Community Doula Networks Webinar Summary Chart
Archived Meeting Resources October 8, 2021
This chart summarizes the key points made during the webinar “Improving Birth Outcomes: Strengthening Awareness of and Support for State and Community Doula Networks” and provides links to related resources.
Improving Birth Outcomes: Strengthening Awareness of and Support for State and Community Doula Networks
Slide Deck October 7, 2021
This resource is a slide deck from the webinar, Improving Birth Outcomes: Strengthening Awareness of and Support for State and Community Doula Networks. Doula care is method for improving birth outcomes and reducing rates of maternal morbidity and mortality among birthing people of color. However, in many states doula care is not routinely covered by health insurance and doulas aren’t seen as instrumental members of the birthing team. Thus, intentional collective efforts should be made to recognize, promote and compensate doulas for their role in achieving equitable outcomes. In addition, making doula care sustainable is an important step in ensuring that birthing people with the highest prevalence of adverse birth outcomes have the support they need before, during, and after pregnancy.