The Massachusetts of Color Coalition started in 2015 inspired by the vision of two women, Brenda Jenkins and Celia J. Blue.
Brenda Jenkins – was inspired by her efforts in support of Florcy Romero and Cheyenne Jones, two college students of color and campus organizers in the movement for Black lives. With the help of Brenda, Florcy and Cheyenne founded Women of Color in Solidarity- a network which connected female students of color across several local colleges and universities with seasoned women leaders/organizers of color to “dialogue about the responsibility that we uphold to advocate and protest for the rights of each other and our men of color.” From that powerful experience, Brenda developed a vision for bringing together an even larger intergenerational network of WOC in Worcester to learn about what was happening in our city and to get us more connected, engaged and invested. Brenda formally invited women to a networking breakfast in April 2015.
Celia Blue – inspired and empowered by her work as President of the North Central Massachusetts Minority Coalition, President of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, Boston and with her efforts in working with Mary Fernandes, Mukiya Baker Gomez and other leaders of color in the Boston area to make state government more inclusive, Celia realized not only should there continue to be a focus on people of color, but more importantly there needed to be a specific focus on WOC. She had a vision of organizing WOC across the commonwealth (and also has a global vision), but wanted to start with the commonwealth first, beginning with outreach into the 3 largest cities; Worcester, Springfield and Boston that geographically spanned the commonwealth. The plan was to initially invite a small group of WOC who were liked minded on WOC inequality issues to agree on the top 3- 5 areas of priority that would have significant impact and forming a movement to become one voice to change the status quo.
Worcester WOC – The networking breakfast sparked the conversation with sisters whom Brenda had a long history of organizing with – Maritza Cruz, Joyce McNickles, Marie Boone and Marianna Islam who saw the idea of a state-wide effort as an opportunity to build upon their collective work as racial justice organizers to grow an even deeper dialogue/movement – strictly focused on WOC. These women along with several other leaders of color in Worcester had just completed a report with specific recommendations to the city manager and mayor to make Worcester more inclusive. Encouraged and empowered by the reception of their report and work among other sisters across the state- outreach was made to trusted and experienced WOC organizers in the Boston and Springfield areas.
In May 2015 meetings begun to develop MAWOCC. Our name was created, vision, mission statement and statement of who we are were developed and the platforms we would focus on were determined. Our founding members are Brenda Jenkins, Maritza Cruz, Marie Boone, Joyce McNickles, Marianna Islam, Waleska Lugo-DeJesus, Alysia Cutting Cosby, Denise Jordan, Mukiya Baker Gomez, Diane Wilkerson, Mary Fernandes, Chioma Nnaji and Celia Blue.