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Annual Program Trains Young African American Women To Be Lea

Annual Program Trains Young African American Women To Be Leaders
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Sara Babrow-Williams teaching planning workshop
Desare Frazier

A program named after Mississippi's first female African American Mayor says it's making inroads in preparing young women to become leaders. MPB's Desare Frazier Reports.

Sara Babrow-Williams is with the Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative. She's teaching young women how to plan a project; from brainstorming and prioritizing tasks to assessing outcomes. For practice, the 14 to 22 year olds are creating a multi-purpose community center.

"A lot of time it's overwhelming when people talk about being a leader, like how to you actually make something happen? And this is really a way to figure out how to make something happen. It makes it very tangible and it also is a process that helps you to engage different people," said Babrow-Williams.

The black women's initiative sponsors the week long program called: The Unita Blackwell Young Women's Leadership Institute. Unita Blackwell was a Civil Rights leader and the mayor of Mayersville. She was the first African American female elected mayor in Mississippi in 1976. Amanda Furdge-Shelby is the program organizer. She says there are more than 60 participants from under served areas of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia at Tougaloo College for the training.

"Some of our young women run for elected positions in their communities. They're educators in their communities. They are the leaders in their communities. They are organizers. They are activists," said Furdge- Shelby.

Twenty-one year old Faith Blount of Jackson says the experience is building her confidence.

"I think it's really good if you don't like to interact with a lot of people. It definitely kinda shows you that there's really nothing to be afraid of and it's o.k. to be yourself," said Blount.

Organizers say 2,000 women have attended the program over 14 years.