Popping up near bus stops, train stations, and other strategically placed locations within a driver’s line of vision are giant billboards in crisp black and white, proclaiming: Abortion is and will remain legal in California. Overlaid on the message in a puffy, golden font reads a closing reassurance: We got you!

The organizing and creation of this public awareness campaign are a direct reflection of the strength, wisdom, and brilliance embodied in the leadership and lived experience of Black women. Launched by Black Women for Wellness and the National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, these billboards across California set the record straight and offer much-needed encouragement today. As in so many other circumstances, Black women and gender-expansive organizers shine their light, offer their vision, and show us all a way forward. They also provide a path for philanthropy to follow at this moment.

It’s long past time for philanthropy to take a “we got you” stance regarding Black women’s leadership on reproductive justice.

To set the context, a meager 1.9% of all philanthropic dollars go to women and girls. Moreover, only a fraction of that goes to reproductive justice, with a tinier slice of that going to Black-led organizations. And yet, Black-led organizations are at the forefront of California’s push to become a reproductive freedom state. Despite chronic underfunding, organizations like the LA-based Black Women for Wellness are making a way out of no way. Their leadership and vision demonstrate how and why it’s possible for the proclamations of the billboards to ring true.

Over five years ago, Black Women for Wellness co-sponsored a groundbreaking bill that mandated companies to inform the public of what’s in the products we put on our bodies every day. Two years ago, they were behind a bill that required implicit bias training for healthcare providers to address disparities in Black maternal health. And just last year, they pushed the Momnibus bill to the finish line, which re-imagines maternal health for birthing people and new parents.

Black Women for Wellness has a multigenerational lineage of organizing that has shaped California’s policy landscape on issues ranging from making doulas available to birthing folks to rolling back eugenics-based Welfare policies. Black women are at the forefront of the intersectional reproductive justice movement and helm its thought leadership, moving our state forward on issues that matter to everyone.

Listening to and taking the lead from Black women, femmes, girls, and gender-expansive folks is vital to how California fortifies itself as a bastion of reproductive justice organizing. But that trailblazing has not translated into dollars in the field. Even without the material resources, Black women create solutions to better their environment and communities, practice effective leadership, and foster a sense of safety and belonging.

While there is more cultural recognition that Black women have always been central to the struggle for freedom and equality, it’s time to turn that recognition into real dollars.

Read the full article about Black-led reproductive justice organizing by Christine Essel, Surina Khan, and Dwayne S. Marsh at Northern California Grantmakers.