The mission of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective is to amplify and strengthen the collective voices of Indigenous women and women of color to ensure reproductive justice through securing human rights. SisterSong is comprised of 80 local, regional and national grassroots organizations in the United States representing five primary ethnic populations/indigenous nations in the United States: Native American/Indigenous, Black/African American, Latina/Puerto Rican, Arab American/Middle Eastern, and Asian/Pacific Islander, as well as white allies and men. The Collective was formed in 1997 to fulfill a need for a national movement by women of color to organize our voices to represent ourselves and our communities. SisterSong educates women of color on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights, and works towards the access of health services, information and resources that are culturally and linguistically appropriate through the integration of the disciplines of community organizing, Self-Help and human rights education.
“We are SisterSong because we are women of color from many cultures and orientations who may sing different songs yet we
all sing the women’s song in harmony, from the same score, on the same sheet of music.”
– Juanita Williams, Management Circle Member and HIV/AIDS survivor – 1997
Who Is SisterSong?
The SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective is a network of local, regional and national grassroots agencies representing five primary ethnic populations/indigenous nations in the United States:
- African American
- Arab American/Middle Eastern
- Asian/Pacific Islander
- Native American/Indigenous
The Collective was formed in 1997 and initially funded by the Ford Foundation to educate women of color and policy makers on reproductive and sexual health and rights, and to work towards the access of health services, information and resources that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
We achieve these goals through public policy work, advocacy, service delivery and health education within our communities on the local, national and international levels.
Monica Simpson, Executive Director
Monica Raye Simpson is a native of North Carolina, and is a proud graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, one of the country’s historical black universities. Because of her decision to come out as a same-gender loving woman while attending undergrad, Monica became deeply involved in LGBT organizing on and off campus. Upon graduation, she was hired as the first person of color at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center in Charlotte as the Operations Director. She made transition from the community center in 2005 to become the Ujamaa Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership where she trained young African Americans in philanthropy, fundraising, and activism. In 2010, Monica moved to Atlanta, GA in to serve as the Development Coordinator with SisterSong. Since her time at SisterSong, she was promoted to Deputy Coordinator in 2011 and will now serve as the Interim Executive Director.
Through her activism and organizational work, Monica has become a nationally sought-after facilitator and organizer. She has been featured in many publications for her activism, and has written many articles on LGBT issues, philanthropy and activism. Monica is a founder for Charlotte’s first Black Gay Pride Celebration, and Charlotte’s African American Giving Circle. She also sits on the board for Resource Generation and the Fund for Southern Communities.
Monica lives by the Paul Robeson’s quote “If the artist does not create, the world suffers.” She has always used her talents of song and spoken word in the community. She has debuted in theatrical productions such as, “For the Love of Harlem,” “Words the Isms,” “Walk Like A Man, ” “The Vagina Monologues” and she will soon join the cast of the Atlanta production of “For Colored Girls”. She is currently working on her first solo album, “All About LOVE.” to be released in the Summer of 2012.
Simpson grew up in Wingate, North Carolina, and says that there were very clear lines that separated Black and White people. “I was put in situations where I was ‘the only,’ like being the only Black child in honors classes,” says Simpson. “Those instances really started me on the path to activism, fighting for the rights of Black people, fighting for women’s rights.”
Simpson began working at SisterSong (where she’s currently the executive director) in 2010, around the same time that the antiabortion group Georgia Right to Life erected billboards in Atlanta that read, “Black children are an endangered species.” In response to the inflammatory ad, SisterSong established a group, Trust Black Women, that created media campaigns and worked with the NAACP, churches and other organizations to counter the billboards’ message.
Simpson has found that African-Americans are reluctant to talk about sex and reproductive issues, which include a range of topics—abortion, health care access and domestic violence. “There’s no comprehensive sex education platform for our youth,” she says. Simpson works tirelessly so young women don’t feel the same shame her college friend did.
Simpson’s friend now has two children: “She had the opportunity to choose when and how to start her family,” she says. “It’s so important for women to have the freedom to make those decisions.”