Maryland Delegate Speaks Out Against Colleagues Who Harassed Her

Maryland Delegate Speaks Out Against Colleagues Who Harassed Her

As the #Metoo movement sweeps the state capital, even elected officials say they endure abuse at the hands of men

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Story Transcript

TAYA GRAHAM: Hello, my name is Taya Graham, and I am a reporter for The Real News Network, Baltimore Bureau. Obviously, like many women across the country, I am moved by the #MeToo movement, not just the stories of the women who have suffered abuse, but the recognition of just how deeply entrenched sexism and sexual exploitation is in the places where women work and live. And I’ve also been concerned that experiences of Women of Color with harassment have not been given the proper attention.

As a reporter, I’ve had the privilege of covering the state capitol of Annapolis. It’s a place where state leaders gather to make the laws that govern the lives of Marylanders across the state. But recently, serious allegations of abuse have surfaced, and the response to the complaints has been lackluster at best. So, as a woman and a journalist, I had the honor of sitting down with three women who were willing to share their firsthand experience with sexual harassment and the consequences of standing up.

I was so moved by their courage that I’ve decided to run all the interviews without cutting a single second. I feel the stories they shared are too important to abbreviate or edit in any way. Therefore, I will be posting these pieces unabridged over the next few days. I hope they will help to heal the wounds of the women who have suffered, and begin a dialogue on how to address the lax attitudes and legal barriers that make the exploitation of women so pervasive in our state capitol. Either way, I remain committed as a journalist and a Woman of Color to bringing these stories to light.

My guests are Brittany Oliver, a women’s rights activist and director of the social justice organization, Not Without Black Women, delegate Angela Angel, and Nina Smith, a communications consultant and former Annapolis staffer. Thank you so much for joining me. Nina, I know you worked as a staffer in Annapolis. Can you tell me a little bit about if you’re someone who experienced sexual harassment in Annapolis. What’s your recourse? What would you have to do to try to get that predator punished, or at least to report it? Can you tell me a little bit about that?

NINA SMITH: Well, I mean, I worked in Annapolis back- I started in 2004 as an intern when I was attending Morgan State University. And you kind of come to Annapolis- and this is part of the testimony I gave earlier this year- you come to Annapolis and you’re kind of like, okay, you know there are certain things that you should expect, right? You know, don’t go out so late, or try to stay in groups, or that sort of thing. And there would be general warnings that you kind of hear, generally, when you first start out. And so , over the years, you experience those different things, and then you kind of learn to pass that advice along. When it comes to the rampant culture and how these things are kind of allowed been allowed to kind of percolate, there was no- the process for reporting this was really unclear.

TAYA GRAHAM: Okay.

NINA SMITH: I worked there for eight years, and I had no real idea about the recourse I had, outside of- in the policy as it stands currently, before this law goes into effect, you have to report through the political offices. You get to report to the chief of staff of the speaker, or the chief of staff of the Senate president, both very political offices, both angled- and the way the policy is written, currently, it’s really very protective of the abusers or the accused. The process is tilted towards them. Even who you report to you, you report to- there’s a human resources manager in the Department of Legislative Services that you report to, because it’s a human resources issue. And so, some of that kind of currently, is just, it’s a very murky structure.

TAYA GRAHAM: Okay.

NINA SMITH: And there’s no independent person, entity, that exists that can kind of say, “All right,” looking at this without the politics involved, without us trying to protect this particular seat in this jurisdiction, or this particular delegation chair. You’re more focused on “what happened here.” You know, “the accused felt like,” or, “the accuser felt like there was something inappropriate that happened here, there was some sort of breach of conduct, of trust, of comfortability, in a space.” So, there’s that piece. And then, in addition to all of that, I mean, no one really knows the scope of the problem. There are no numbers. There are no numbers.

TAYA GRAHAM: There’s no numbers of the number of sexual harassment cases that have been filed or reported in Annapolis.

NINA SMITH: Or complaints. No, there’s no way to discover that information.

TAYA GRAHAM: That is astonishing.

NINA SMITH: They haven’t even been keeping it. So, it’s not even like they’re not turning it over. They’ve not been keeping it.

TAYA GRAHAM: That is absolutely extraordinary.

NINA SMITH: We weren’t even taking the basic steps to- I mean, trainings were happening once every four years for legislators, and the last training that happened, if I’m not mistaken, the attorney general’s office had to step in and do the training, because the trainer from the National- I forget the name of the entity who usually does the trainings- didn’t show up. So, just the training structure wasn’t there, the reporting structure wasn’t there. If you are an accuser, you don’t feel safe, because it’s very political. It’s just, all around it was a problem. And we looked at it very closely, and as things were developing, starting, I think it was December where this started to bubble up a little bit on social media, that folks were talking about their experiences with sexual harassment in Annapolis. And you know, folks came out on social media, but they didn’t name names, and they just kind of highlighted that this is a problem. So, we started examining it, and we realized that the policy was just- it was laughable.

TAYA GRAHAM: And it sounds like it makes it very open to the person who is doing the accusing to be open to retaliation. So, it sounds like that makes it very easy.

NINA SMITH: Oh, of course. I mean, everything in Annapolis is about relationships. Everything. Every job I had in Annapolis, to some degree, involved me interfacing with legislators, having to talk to them about certain support we needed, if we were going to be in their district, reaching out to them. And it gives them a lot of access to you, in a way that you can’t just throw up the barrier, or not return that text. You have to return the text, right, because you don’t want them being pissy with you when you have a piece of legislation, or you need their public support on an issue. Because it goes back to, like I said, the way hidden retaliation can be done if you didn’t return the text. You know, who knows what can happen to your bill, who knows, when you’re trying to testify, or you’re trying to move something. It’s enumerable, the ways that someone can come after you.

TAYA GRAHAM: Wow. I know that you said that you testified, which meant that you had, as a staffer, experienced sexual harassment in Annapolis. Do you mind sharing a little bit of that story with us now?

NINA SMITH: Yeah, I mean, I’ll share what I testified about, just that I experienced different forms. A lot of it was inappropriate jokes. I had one legislator tell me that he wanted to perform a sexual act on me. There was another legislator, who I knew was married, text me after midnight to come to his hotel room. There is, I’m not into oysters, but, you know, there are oyster receptions all the time in Annapolis, that’s our thing. And at a reception, there was this group, and they were encouraging me to sip the oysters, and, you know, it’s a powerful aphrodisiac. And it’s just like, okay, this is, this is-.

TAYA GRAHAM: Uncomfortable, to say the least.

NINA SMITH: Uncomfortable, to say the least. And I think one of the- just talking about the worst situation I encountered, was outright assault, sexual assault, on the dance floor. A legislator came up behind me, made a very inappropriate comment about, “Oh, I didn’t know you were packing all this back here,” and you know, it was uncomfortable. I was trying to move, and he became a wreck. It was not a- and I know this individual’s wife, I’ve met his children, I know his brother, I like- I know these folks. And they basically raised me, because I was in Annapolis for eight years, starting in college.

TAYA GRAHAM: You were basically a baby when you showed up there.

NINA SMITH: Absolutely. Absolutely.

TAYA GRAHAM: That is just, that’s just terrible. You, with Not Without Black Women, with your help, have managed to pass a piece of legislation to address some of the issues that- what sounds like, there was no accountability for sexual harassment in Annapolis. Previously, you’ve tried to bring in some accountability, maybe even some independent oversight. Can you tell me a little bit about the legislation that you drafted and successfully passed?

BRITTANY OLIVER: So, what I can tell you is that, for my particular role in getting this bill passed, was again, through Not Without Black Women, was to provide the advocacy aspect to this. So, what we decided to do is, we all came up collectively, made the decision to do a social media campaign, which also involved creating a petition online, so that we could use it as a way to spread the word about what we were working on. We also started to get stories from other from survivors who wanted to speak up about what they were going through, but didn’t have an avenue, or a way to talk about it. So, we created a submission document for folks to be able to submit their story. So, we’ve also been collecting stories.

On the last day of session, we wanted to have sine die #MeToo action, where we went to different bars. And it was myself, Nina, and some other supporters of Not Without Black Women, that came to Annapolis, so that we could- and this was my first sine die, I had never- I had been involved in the process, political advocacy or political activism in Baltimore and Annapolis for a long time, and this was my first time going to sine die. And so, what we did was, we were there, and we went to different bars and watched to see if we could see any inappropriate behavior that was happening. This kind of work was inspired by the work that I have previously done. I’m the former co-director of Hollaback! Baltimore, which is a gender based anti-street-harassment organization that’s in Baltimore. I’m now a board member. But this is what we did. We would go into different- we trained bar, different bars and venues in Baltimore, staff on how to identify sexual abuse and harassment that’s happening right in their establishments. Because people just don’t know what- they don’t know how to identify it, they don’t know what it looks like, and they don’t know what to do.

TAYA GRAHAM: So, what kind of harassment, if any, did you see in these bars?

BRITTANY OLIVER: So, what I can say, is that there is definitely- the culture there is not different from a lot of different spaces that I have observed. It’s very similar to different scenes in Baltimore, such as downtown Baltimore Power Plant.

TAYA GRAHAM: Oh, wow. Power Plant.

BRITTANY OLIVER: So, on the last day of session, sine die, myself, Nina, and some other supporters of Not Without Black Women decided to go to Annapolis, so that we could, kind of observe space and see how-see if we could see any type of inappropriate behavior that was that was happening, especially with the bill, especially with getting the bill passed. And so, what I can say is that I saw a lot of inappropriate touching, grabbing, I saw-.

TAYA GRAHAM: And this is between politicians and staffers and lobbyists? Is that the group of people you’re looking at?

BRITTANY OLIVER: Yes, it was delegates, legislators, staff that- a lot of drinking, and a lot of, just- it’s seen in that space, very packed tightly. It’s normally an event that everyone who works in Annapolis attends, so there’s a lot of people in one space at one time. And so, what I was able to see was just a lot of inappropriate grabbing, and touching, and hugging, and groping, is what I witnessed and what I saw.

BRITTANY OLIVER: On the day that you helped successfully pass legislation to deal with sexual harassment in Annapolis, you witnessed sexual harassment.

BRITTANY OLIVER: On the same day I witnessed it there. And again, this being my first time being a part of sine die, I was actually, what I mentioned earlier, about this being a risk for, specifically, for Black Women. I was worried if anyone would recognize me as a person who had been talking about this issue over session. And actually, I had some encounters where folks, where there were some legislators who just walked up to me and started talking to me about sexual harassment. And that’s what gave me the cue that they recognized me from the advocacy that we were doing on the bill. And so, there were jokes and things like that being made. And I kind of just, for my own protection, I just gave a nod and was just saying, “if you supported it”- I tried not to go into too much detail, because that really wasn’t my goal, was to sit and have a whole conversation about the bill.

But what I’m trying to uplift is that, as a Black Woman talking about issues around rape culture, I couldn’t tell whether or not the person was actually interested because they care about the issue, or if they were taunting- if they were trying to intimidate. And so, when you’re a Black Woman, and you’re talking about this, especially in a space like Annapolis, I think that it goes back to what Angela was saying about the backlash that you receive, and the intimidation, and the risk. It really is a risk. And I feel, for myself, I am a woman with my own experience. I experience a lot of sexual harassment in public space, which is why I started leading Hollaback! Baltimore. And it was some of the most impactful work I had ever done in my entire career.

But, trying to create more safer spaces for women in public space is what I was really- has always been a passion of mine. And so, I think that even more so now, the stakes have gotten a lot higher. My career is on the line, my- and all of that stuff is a risk. However, I am more dedicated. I feel like I am at the most vulnerable I’ve ever been, in the work that I’m doing right now. And so, if speaking up and supporting women like Nina, and like Delegate Angel, and other women survivors, if it means speaking up and giving that support- because that’s one thing we don’t have, we don’t have a lot of support. I can say, during session, people started to catch on, by retweeting us, our petition, and reaching out, asking “are we okay, what kind of support do we need.” But it took a really long time to gain that support. And it looks- the issue looks more threatening to- this is an issue that white women- this issue is like the face that white women often-.

TAYA GRAHAM: Absolutely, the face of this movement, essentially.

BRITTANY OLIVER: And so, it’s like, what is this Black Woman, this young Black Woman, running around Annapolis, running around Baltimore, talking about rape culture? And because I’ve been doing this work for a long time, I’ve just learned how to build tough skin around it, and focus on the issue.

TAYA GRAHAM: Right. Now it does sound like you were handling the social media, public relations aspect of making sure this bill came to pass. You offered what was obviously really important testimony on behalf of this bill. But can you, delegate, tell me a little bit about how this bill is going to change things? So, we know that it made it very difficult for some staffers to be able to report sexual harassment. There’s no numbers kept on sexual harassment. So, can you tell me now how this bill changes that?

ANGELA M ANGEL: So, one of the biggest victories in the bill is that there is an independent investigator that is involved that you can go to. That was crucial, because part of what the issue was, was you were going to, you were being required to go to folks who were already politically involved and motivated. And what people have to understand as to why that matters is, for instance, the leadership team, which is made up of the heads of committees, the heads of delegation, they have a large responsibility for making bills passed in Annapolis. Like, a lot of times, if a member of leadership doesn’t like a bill, they can drawer it without any questions. And when I mean drawer it, it means that they can make it to where it just basically goes away. You don’t have a public hearing on it, it doesn’t have to go to a vote for a committee, it never has to be- it never sees the light of day. That’s why it’s called drawered, because technically it’s in their drawer. And so, they can do that without any question. And in fact, if you question a bill being drawered, there’s retaliation that goes against that. And that’s pro forma, that’s the way Annapolis works.

And there’s also a monetary aspect, where if you look- most leadership people, people in positions of leadership, raise a huge amount of money, and that money then goes back into helping other Democrats get elected. So, they’re fundraisers. And so, they have a lot of power and responsibility. And there is a system set up to support them and to make sure they stay in power, because they’re how the entire power dynamic stays Annapolis. So, part of the issue, and why it’s so important to have an independent investigator, because if these are the people that are actually doing something against- that are sexually harassing people, that are assaulting people, the way the structure of Annapolis is set up, is to protect that person, because they have money in their account. They’re holding bills. They can do all of these things. So, as a victim, it’s bigger than- it’s more than David and Goliath, it’s huge.

So, what we’ve done now is, an independent investigator, who is not politically motivated or politically active, you can go to them now, and they can do an investigation. There’s also a tracking system. So, for instance, even if, say, someone is being reported, but they keep being unfounded, it’s now tracked. And so, you can begin to look at that, and say, “Okay, why does this person have four complaints, five complaints, and everything’s being unfounded?” Something has to be there. Those are some of the big issues and things that we’re passed.

NINA SMITH: I’ll also add that there’s a training component, and they started to formalize the training component, which is important, because you need to know the rules of the game. And that was part of the issue in Annapolis. It’s really murky. Relationships are like- it’s very shadowy. And so, it kind of makes the lines very clear in ways that we just haven’t had before. And I think that’s also very important, so that everybody knows, “this is inappropriate, this isn’t, and now I need to go ahead and report it to the Joint Ethics Committee, and the Joint Ethics Committee will refer it to an independent investigator.” And just having that very clear, independent of the political structure process, I think is going to really help expose a lot of the perpetrators, the predators that we have in Annapolis. And the way it’s designed.

ANGELA M ANGEL: Exactly. And then also, even with the Joint Ethics Committee, it clarifies, and makes sure that it’s clear what their role is in regards to sexual harassment. One of the things that I had heard from people, who, even if they had tried to file something, dealing with the legislator, what had happened is, the ethics committee can say, “Regardless of whether or not we even find that this is factual, or valid, or we believe you, this is outside our purview, and so therefore there ‘ s nothing that can be done and we’ll refer you to, you can seek outside.” But once you kind of put everything on the line, and you’ve reported it to somewhere, and you get that type of a letter, you’re not typically going to go anywhere else. And so, this places a more clear, defined, responsibility in what that committee’s role is in processing sexual harassment claims. I also just want to be clear about the process, and to also prevent any other type of backlash, is that the women’s caucus had began looking into this-

NINA SMITH: And that’s where I testified.

ANGELA M ANGEL: And she testified. And in 2016, they began looking into this, and because a lot of us had talked about it amongst ourselves, and a lot of us had shared stories. Like I said, I could go on, and on about things that are even criminal that have happened to other legislators. I don’t, because I respect that that’s their story to share. But so, we all knew about this. The Women’s Caucus picked this up about a year and a half ago. And they first started collecting stories, and seeing, and going to leadership and asking for help. They then even formalized the process, and started kind of a subcommittee that was looking at this. They wrote a report, and the bill itself came out of- the actual bill, House Bill 1342, was something that was drafted as a result of all of that work. And so, I do always want to be clear, to give credit where credit is due, that the bill came out of that work in the committee. I will also be clear that I never sat on those meetings, I didn’t attend them, and I didn’t participate. And I’ll say honestly, one of the reasons I didn’t, was because of the retaliation, because I also- I’ll be honest, and even Nina and Brittany can say, during this whole process, I’ve been fairly jaded. I will say that I was very pleasantly surprised that the bill passed, even when it crossed back from the Senate, and it had all the amendments, and the Senate made it a stronger bill, which shocked me, because some of the things that we advocated for in the House, like the independent investigator, the House did not put that in.

TAYA GRAHAM: And the Senate put it back in.

ANGELA M ANGEL: The Senate put it back in, which was shocking, because in the process, the Senate had seemed more resistant, and they had seemed more-

NINA SMITH: The Senate President, Senator Mike Miller- basically it seemed like, the way he was talking, there was a letter that was basically passed around by women legislators. I think fifty-seven out of the sixty legislators in Annapolis signed the letter basically saying that, “Well, yeah, this behavior is inappropriate, but we’re still doing great work.” And they did this in the middle of the bill moving. And the Senate presidents dance on the Senate floor and says, “I have this letter, here.” So, it kind of gives the impression that, “Oh, you know, this means nothing’s wrong, we don’t really need to pass legislation, we don’t really need to go that far.” So, to put it into actual law that these changes need to be made, and we need to create this a safe space, it came across as if it wasn’t going to go anywhere. And there were a lot of late nights agonizing- I know I texted folks pretty late. There’s one report I texted pretty late, and I apologized to her about that, just because of the concerns about this process. You know Ariana Kelly was the lead sponsor of 1342. She also had a bill, that passed, that provides Tarana Burke’s consent course for elementary school kids, so they’re even starting earlier.

TAYA GRAHAM: Wow, that’s great.

NINA SMITH: Like I said before, for me the biggest issue was consent. We’re not teaching each other how to respect our boundaries. If I’m not interested in you, don’t touch me. If I tell you I’m not comfortable, you need to move away, or you need to acknowledge that I’m uncomfortable, right, and give me that space, and then maybe we can reengage later. But, you know, I need to feel like I’m empowered to do so. And the current situation, the current structure, the current system, did not give me that space.

ANGELA M ANGEL: And so, in the legislative process, when it came back from the Senate, they had added on amendments that we had actually suggested in the House that were rejected. The independent investigator- I had I’d written and offered those amendments, and when the bill was voted out of the House, they didn’t even take up the amendments. I didn’t- and it was interesting, when it was voted out of the house, we knew the vote was happening, but like for instance, we weren’t told whether or not we can attend, and some vote sessions with the committees in Annapolis, they don’t like you to attend their sessions.

And my amendment- and so, people came back to me and said, “We heard your amendments, but nobody even took them up.” And I said, “Well, why?” And they said, “Well you weren’t there. And I said, “Well, nobody told me to be there.” I would have advocated for- because what can happen is, if you show up, sometimes that will anger people, and they will vote your stuff down. Like, there are certain committees, it’s known, if you show up and advocate for your things, they’ll vote it down, because they don’t like that. So, we didn’t know. So, when our amendments weren’t even discussed, and weren’t voted on, when it came out of the House, I was like, “Well, the Senate is going to be even harder to get it through.”

And so, I was so pleasantly surprised when it came back from the Senate and it was an even stronger bill. But I’ll tell you, with Nina, I was like, “Nah, I know it’s not passing.” Literally, because this is what happens, you know, you’ll get something, and then there’s other bills that died on the House floor that night, that just, the House never- because when it comes back to the Senate, and it’s been changed, the House has to then approve the Senate changes. And so, that’s where another place like legislation gets held up or it dies, because if the House doesn’t approve it, you go to a conference committee, and you’re- all this is running out, the sand- it’s a clock right.

TAYA GRAHAM: And you could actually run out of time, because this is the last ditch session, right?

ANGELA M ANGEL: Exactly. So, I was like- especially since the amendments that the House had refused to take up, the Senate had added on.

TAYA GRAHAM: So, you assumed, then, quite understandably, that meant it wasn’t going to pass in the House.

ANGELA M ANGEL: Exactly, because what happens is, sometimes the House will then strip the Senate’s amendments, and then send it back to the Senate. There’s all types of games that we play. So, I was like- up to the last day, I was telling them, I was like, “This isn’t passing.” And you know, they were overjoyed. I was like, “It’s not happening.” Because I’ve lived this, I’ve lived this for four years, and I was a staffer before, and I know how ingrained this culture is. And so, I was like, “I don’t think it’s going to happen.” And when it did, I was like- and I voted. Because it comes up on the floor and it says, “ratifying or accepting the Senate’s amendment.” And I was like, “Are we accepting these amendments?” And I pressed the button, and after I press that I texted them, I was like, “We just approved- the bill is law.” And for me-

TAYA GRAHAM: That must have been an incredible feeling.

ANGELA M ANGEL: It was one of the- there haven’t been a lot of times, I will say, as my time in the House- you know, and I’m blessed. I was in the House for four years. I’m running for Senate, so I will no longer be in the house. You know, win or lose, that was still- my four years is done. But I think, in these past four years, I think that was one of the very few times I was like, honestly floored, and shocked, and shocked in a good way because there’s been so many times that we’ve let down, I think, the people of Maryland. And we just haven’t- especially victims, and especially women. There’s been so many times when we just haven’t stood for them. And so, when, to press that button, and to see the bill, especially the stronger bill, pass, it was a point of like, okay, one, it made it worthwhile, like it made it worth it, because there were times, I know, especially Nina sharing her story, me, and if you’ve heard my testimony, when I testified, I was testifying before the committee, with people in the room who had done some of the things I was describing.

TAYA GRAHAM: Were you able to, I mean, when you’re testifying, the person who was your abuser, who was a predator, is across the room from you? Are they making eye contact with you, or are they looking away? Like, what’s happening in that moment?

ANGELA M ANGEL: I mean, you know, all types of things. You know, if you if you look- and when I’m testifying, for the most part I just kind of kept my eyes down, I kind of looked-.

TAYA GRAHAM: So, you the avoided eye contact, or having to deal with whatever facial expression they might be projecting towards you.

ANGELA M ANGEL: Exactly, though occasionally I did look up. And I know some of the people that were either witnesses to some of the things- people looked very uncomfortable.

TAYA GRAHAM: Okay.

ANGELA M ANGEL: I will say that. And then, my staffer, who was familiar with it, she later reported they looked very stone-faced and at times looked very uncomfortable or flustered. But seeing all of that, and knowing that, and having lived through it, and having lived through, honestly, a system that- where you haven’t been protected- I’m a survivor of sexual abuse, I’m a survivor of domestic violence. I’ve survived a lot of things. But I will say, sitting in the house where I am- not that you’re supposed to be, but where I’m supposed to be able to feel empowered, where I’m supposed to be able to feel like this is my space to fight for the people of my district. Having experienced four years where there were times when I was completely victimized, and not only was victimized by what was happening to me, but I was victimized by the fact that I was powerless to change it, to fight against it, or to even report it. That was something that was very soul-shattering. So, to be able to see that bill pass, to say that- and who knows- but to say that we’ve made it to where this is not okay, it was empowering in a way that I can’t describe. You know, it was like, this is what I’ve done this for. So, maybe, you know, oh gosh I don’t wanna get, I hate- you know, I’m like, “There’s no crying in politics.” But this is why you did it. This is why, if for no other reasons, if, God forbid, I don’t go back to the Senate, if I can say that there’s a woman that’s coming in next round that will be protected, it was worth it.

NINA SMITH: It was worth it.

TAYA GRAHAM: I absolutely agree that this incredible work that you have all done, that you’ve shared in together, to protect women in Annapolis. I think it’s something that you can be incredibly proud of. And I think that you really all need to be commended for your bravery for being willing to stand up and tell your own stories, and to be in the same room as those who tried to victimize you, and be able to confront them, is absolutely something that needs to be respected, and should be inspiring to others.

BRITTANY OLIVER: I think that one of the things that, especially with Not Without Black Women, what we have found is that lots of women- these are not stories that I’ve heard for the- I hear these stories all the time from women within our organization. And so, when we come together, once a month, to have our sister circle talks, where we meet at different restaurants and venues across the city. And we talk about- we just have food, and drinks, and kind of social time, and talked about what issues we’re dealing with, this is what I hear. This is what I listen to.

So, Not Without Black Women is dedicated towards empowering women to take back their power, and trying to find ways for women to feel, there is someone that cares about you, and that supports you, and that you can make a difference. And that was really what the overall goal is with getting this bill passed.

TAYA GRAHAM: I’d like to thank my guests, Brittany Oliver, Nina Smith, and Delegate Angela Angel, for joining me for this important conversation, and sharing their truths with me. And I want to thank you for joining me, your host, Taya Graham, at The Real News Network.