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Black women take center stage at South by Southwest

KENYATTA GIDDINGS | 4/8/2016, 10:58 a.m.
Amidst the late night concerts, daytime parties, tech unveilings and film screenings, Black women shined in Austin during the 30th ...
Queen Latifah, from left, Sophia Bush, first lady Michelle Obama, Missy Elliott and Diane Warren speak at a panel discussion during South by Southwest at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, March 16. Rich Fury of Invision

The Dallas Examiner

Amidst the late night concerts, daytime parties, tech unveilings and film screenings, Black women shined in Austin during the 30th annual South by Southwest Festival and Conference. From the first lady of the United States to America’s favorite Thursday night fixer, Black girl magic was in full supply.

For those avoiding the use of social media as a means to boost one’s career progress, Kerry Washington offered a convincing story to do otherwise.

After years of sitting on the social network sidelines, Washington noticed other actresses with established digital presences being offered opportunities not presented to her. When she became involved in 2010’s For Colored Girls, she wanted to make sure the world knew about the film, and decided to launch a full-scale social media strategy with the help of trusted colleague Allison Peters.

“Social is the great democratizer,” Washington said. “Everyone is a critic, or celebrity or writer.”

While online opinion may not be as brutal for the general public, Washington gave advice on delivering content for captivating your target audience: Talking about what touches you and what you want your community to know.

Taking this small step to inform and enlighten the public is the kind of action discussed in first lady Michelle Obama’s keynote address during a forum designed to encourage young women to change the world by being aware and starting with themselves. Moderated by Queen Latifah. the panel included rapper Missy Elliot, actress Sophia Bush and songwriter Diane Warren.

“Showing love can change the world,” Latifah said. “But it can be a challenge because you have to start with yourself.”

Change of another sort was also one of the panel’s talking points, as the conversation shifted to the Obamas’ impending exit from the White House. After giving the audience an impromptu a cappella of It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday, Obama shared her feelings about leaving Pennsylvania Avenue.

“I’ll miss the young people I interact with,” she said through stifled tears. “I see myself in them. [Telling] the kid with doubts; if I can have these experiences, you can do it too. I will miss that as first lady but I will do it for the rest of my life.”

Met with wild cheers from the crowd, Obama answered the question on everyone’s mind.

“I will not run for president,” she said.

Her commitment to empowering young people begins with her two teenage daughters that keep her far from a race to the Oval Office.