CALIFORNIA'S FIRST FEMALE AFRICAN AMERICAN POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE CONTINUES TO EMPOWER
Almost two decades ago, a group of activists determined that African American women needed to have a more active voice in local and state politics.
Founded in 1991, the Los Angeles African American Women Political Action Committee (LAAAWPAC) was the first female African American PAC formed in the state of California. Funded completely by donations, the organization helps to raise money to support progressive African Americans running for public office.
"We're all about empowering our representatives, community and the general public," says LAAAWPAC president Jackie Hawthorne. "It is a sad fact that African American women have a harder time raising money than their male counterparts. We exist to help level the playing field."
LAAAWPAC has raised money to support ballot initiatives and candidates on the national, state and local levels. The group was instrumental in attracting Diane Watson, a former ambassador to Micronesia, to run for U.S. representative for the 33rd Congressional District, Hawthorne said. Other legislators that LAAAWPAC has backed include Karen Bass, who is Speaker Emeritus of the California Assembly and now running for Congress, and Laura Richardson, who is serving in the United States Congress.
LAAAWPAC holds an annual Empowerment Awards fundraiser honoring women leaders and activists from various backgrounds. This year's event is scheduled for Sunday, April 25 and will take place at the Proud Bird Restaurant, in Los Angeles. This year's Honorees are U.S. Congresswoman Diane E. Watson, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Business Leader Forescee Hogan-Rowles, Community Leader Mary White Nicholson, Educator Julie Washington, and Young Leader Kellie Hawkins.
Â In 2002 LAAAWPAC expanded its reach and established a non-profit organization, the Los Angeles African American Women's Public Policy Institute (LAAAWPPI), which holds public policy leadership classes once a year on the campus of the University of Southern California.
Also in 2002, LAAAWPAC was instrumental in forming a national political action committee, the Future PAC with east and west coast offices. It was created to encourage African American women candidates across the nation to run for political office, and to provide resources and support in launching an effective campaign.
For information about LAAAWPAC or their 18th Annual Empowerment Awards call (323) 295-8373.