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Columbus, OH 43215


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Listening in on Our Young Black Girls

Columbus Councilmember Priscilla Tyson Creates Commission on Black Girls to Build a Foundation for Strong Women


[COLUMBUS – OH] “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” said Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, author and women’s rights activist. It’s a testimony that Columbus City Councilmember Priscilla Tyson is using to fuel the newly formed Commission on Black Girls.

“Across the nation and right here in Columbus, black women have the highest rates of poverty, obesity, infant mortality and incarceration among all ethnic groups,” said Tyson. “Why is this happening? What are our girls experiencing that has them on pathways to poverty?"

The Commission was created to understand the issues impacting black girls in Columbus and provide recommendations that transform lives. It will focus on girls ages 11-22.

Currently, black girls are:

  • Three times more likely to live in poverty. (Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Black Girls Project 2011)
  • Five times more likely to be suspended from school.
  • Twice as likely to be overweight and obese. (Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Black Girls Project 2011)

“To change the trajectory of the lives of black women, black girls must be given the resources and benefits to improve their quality of life and provide them with the tools to make good, long-term decisions,” Tyson continued.

In Ohio, black women are:

  • Twice as likely to live in poverty as compared to white women with a similar education.
  • Between the ages 18-34, experiencing the highest rates of poverty in the state. (U.S. Census 2015-2016)
  • Twice as likely to be imprisoned as compared to white women with black women ages 18-19, being five times more likely to the imprisoned. (Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services)

Initially, the Commission will conduct fact-finding and education sessions to learn more about the current quality of life for black girls in Columbus. They will then dive into the work of developing recommendations to provide preemptive solutions for young black girls to mitigate issues that manifest in adulthood. The first organizational meeting takes place on Thursday, July 19, 4pm at City Hall, 90 W. Broad St.

The Commission on Black Girls will have no more than twenty-five voting members and are appointed to serve without pay until December 31, 2020.

City Council staff shall provide support to the Commission and ensure that meetings are publicized to other parties interested in the promotion of black girls in the community.

Commission Co-Chairs

  • Dr. Frederic Bertley, COSI
  • Fran Frazier, Rise Sister Rise

Commission Members

  • Rev. Dr. Timothy Ahrens, First Congregational Church
  • Linda Brown, The Links Incorporated – Columbus Chapter
  • Crystal D. Causey, Coalition of 100 Black Women
  • Clytemnestra L. Clarke, First Church of God
  • LaShanda Coleman, National Pan-Hellenic Council of Columbus
  • Dr. Lisa Courtice, United Way of Central Ohio
  • Mary Cusick, Women’s Fund of Central Ohio
  • Dr. Kevin L. Dixon, Franklin Co. ADAMH Board
  • Hon. Elizabeth Gill, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Division, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas
  • Alesia Gillison, Columbus City Schools
  • Tom Grote, Grote & Turner
  • Mia Hairston, Nationwide Insurance
  • Kim Hooper, Walmart
  • LC Johnson, YWCA
  • Attorney DeShauna Lee, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • Dr. Mysheika Roberts, City of Columbus
  • Toshia Safford, Center for Healthy Families
  • Chip Spinning, Franklin Co. Children’s Services   
  • Ben Tyson, Easton Town Center
  • Paiden Williams, Rise Sister Rise

Commission Members scheduled to be appointed July 23

  • Attorney Michael Corey, Humans Service Chamber of Franklin County
  • Dr. Wendy Smooth, The Ohio State University