The Austin Woman staff dive into the Black women who have inspired and driven their equity work in Austin and beyond.
Social Media Specialist
Terry P. Mitchell, co-owner of Austin Woman magazine, is the Black woman who inspires me most in my equity work. I heard from her for the first time at the Austin Woman Thrive event in June 2022, and seeing her passion come alive as she spoke inspired me for the future of Austin Woman magazine and the future of a more inclusive world. Her work at the Black Leaders Collective along with the rest of the team, focusing on reforming the future, is truly impressive. Changing the future to be more inclusive and more equitable starts now!
Jen Ramos Perkins
Director of Business Management
There are so many Black women who have inspired my equity work over the years, but when our editor asked us the question this month, there was one person who came to mind immediately. Someone who champions people from ALL marginalized backgrounds: people from Black and Brown ethnic cultures, people in the LGBTQIA+ community, women and those who identify as women, young people who are still deciding how they identify. She sees people, sees their essence, and when that is not immediately clear she digs deeper, asks the right questions and listens with a keen ear and open heart to paint a beautiful picture of a person in a way that they often cannot see themselves. Someone who never takes enough credit for the impact she has in the Austin community—and in the lives around her. In the words of my kiddo: she is smart, nice, understanding, respectful, accepting and very cool. My staff pick this month is also a staff pick. Cy White is by far the Black woman who has most inspired my equity work and awareness tenfold in the last several years. Thank you, Cy, for all you do for Austin Woman magazine, the Austin community and for me and my family.
Tara Dudley, Ph.D., inspires me with her work to preserve the last known standing slave quarters in Austin at the Neill-Cochran House Museum. When you think about it, there is a reason that physical Black history does not exist in Austin and in most communities throughout the South. Tara’s work to preserve and tell the stories of the people who helped build Austin is a beautiful way to implement equity in our built and physical spaces. She teaches interior design history and architectural history courses at the University of Texas at Austin. Her scholarship examines the contributions of African American builders and architects to the American built environment, focusing on the antebellum and Reconstruction eras in the U.S. South.
Two women come to mind, and both have equally inspired me. Pam Benson Owens and Meme Styles are two women who are intentional, outspoken and unafraid to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done. Pam’s work with Six Square challenges the forces that would try to erase the city’s real history. Meme’s work to make tangible change in terms of equity for Black women and girls through her organization MEASURE Austin is driven by data and indisputable. Both women aren’t afraid to speak the truth, even when it’s unpopular or forces people to reconcile with some hard truths. While I have always made it my mission to uplift Black womxn and have been intentional about meeting and introducing Austin to these incredible women, I’ve become more determined and more fearless with the guidance, honesty and absolute ferocity of Pam and Meme.