Walker’s Legacy Profiles recognize unique women of color in business who embody the legacy of Madam C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire. In this installment, meet Ramunda Lark Young.
On January 21, millions of people around the world marched to raise their voices against injustice through the Women’s March.
The activism did not stop there. On Wednesday, March 8, International Day of the Woman, communities are recognizing “A Day without a Woman”, where women are encouraged to refrain from paid and unpaid labor, avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses), and wear red for equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity. On my TV show, A Seat at the Table on Arlington Independent Media, I sat down with Shari Nycole, a producer at TVOne, and Hala Ayala, president of the Prince William Chapter of NOW, for a discussion on the Women’s March and how we can move women’s issues forward in the wake of the march. You can see that interview here.
Earlier this month, I had the privilege of speaking with Ramunda Lark Young, Connection Strategist and Chief Encouragement Officer of Ramunda Young, Inc., an organization dedicated to Encouraging Extraordinary Women to SOAR – Surpass Obstacles and Rise, about her experience at the March in Washington, DC, and why it’s important for women of color in business to stay involved. In 2007, Ramunda and her husband Derrick founded Mahogany Books, which at its roots, is online bookstore that specializes in books written for, by, or about people of the African Diaspora.
Ramunda’s infectious nature in the boardroom and in the bookstand bleeds into her work in the community. She has distinguished herself as a community leader in several roles, including service as a commissioner on the Prince William Human Rights Commission and the advisory board of the Virginia Leadership Institute.
KRYSTA: Why was it important for you to attend the march?
RAMUNDA: In light of disparaging comments expressed by our country’s newest leaders, I felt a more poignant message had to be sent that vividly showed the angst many women were feeling at being disrespected verbally, physically and even from an economic perspective when it comes to equal pay. I marched because if I hadn’t, it felt like I was saying it was ok to disrespect women and I was raising a brilliant young woman of my own.
KRYSTA: What were your impressions, what did you observe? How did you feel?
Talk about being pumped up! There is nothing like seeing a sea of passionate, engaged and vocal women coming together to evoke change, to be seen and to send a message to the powers that be that wrong is wrong.
From housewives and single moms to entrepreneurs and CEOs, the view was spectacular. So often as women we are pitted against each other in the media, at the office, even in our communities and to be immersed in a sisterhood of knowing glances that said, yes, we are here and will not be silent, left an indelible mark on my spirit.
KRYSTA: Why was it important to bring your family?
RAMUNDA: Bringing my family was critical. I have to admit, having my husband and daughter side-by-side gave me a true sense of pride that yes, we are all in this together. I wanted my daughter to visually see and feel what it’s like when people use their voices to nonviolently speak out against gender biases, negativity, and any other injustice. By having my husband there, it also showed that the women’s march is not only about what women experience, but that the men who love and support them must be seen in support.
After the march, I asked my daughter, “If someone spoke to you and asked you why you attended the march, what would you say?” She simply said, “because women must be treated the same and speak out when things aren’t right!”
KRYSTA: Why is it important for women of color in business to engage in women’s rights issues?
RAMUNDA: It is not enough to simply be successful in business by ourselves, but what we do outside of the boardroom is equally imperative, if not more so because of the lingering implications it can have in our communities when we don’t help each other. Working in silos, we can grow immune to what’s occurring around us with other women, but we must be intentional with our efforts to speak up about women’s rights.
When we leverage our status, our dollars, and our business relationships to be vocal on issues that impact women, we not only make lives better for our sisters, we make lives better for generations and generations to come and the men who will reside within those legacies as well.
KRYSTA: What will you do next as a result of attending?
I have long been a proponent of women, from my days as an undergrad at Langston University where I started a section of the National Council of Negro Women, to my company now, Ramunda Young, Inc. As a Connection Strategist, I will remain laser focused on helping women strategize and be heard in the marketplace. I am committed to teaching them to build authentic business relationships that increase sales and self-confidence. We have immense value in the workplace and must learn to communicate it. Additionally, I am even more excited about the minority mentoring program I co-chair at a local college where women make up the majority of mentees. This is where I feel a wonderful sense of contentment that continues to propel me to ensure young women realize the power of their voice too.