UofM Scholar and Advocate Attends White House Summit on Women

July 12, 2016 - Dr. Beverly Cross, who holds the Moss Chair of Excellence in Urban Education at the University of Memphis, attended the United State of Women Summit in Washington, D.C., in June.

The summit, convened by First Lady Michelle Obama, was a forum to discuss issues critical to women and girls, including economic empowerment, health and wellness, educational opportunity, violence against women, entrepreneurship, and leadership and civic engagement.

Notables among the 5,100 who attended were Vice President Joe Biden; Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives; U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch; actresses Meryl Streep and Tina Fey; TV writer and producer Shonda Rhimes; and Oprah Winfrey, who interviewed Michelle Obama.

Cross says she was invited to the summit in recognition for her work advocating for girls and women through the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis. "I was interested in what could be brought back to our campus. It inspired me to think differently," said Cross. "We discussed the educational component as well as economic empowerment. I believe that education is the route for women to economic empowerment."

One of Cross' favorite moments was spotting a participant wearing a T-shirt that read "Another Day, Another 78¢," in reference to the pay gap between men and women.

"Prosperity is a national security issue," she said. "If the country doesn't support half of its population, we can only progress so far."

On the issue of violence against women, Cross said, "In April, we had several events on sexual assault awareness. I'm proud of how proactive our campus is on these issues."

The UofM has "strong upper-level women leaders," she noted. "It's powerful for our University, to have them reach out and mentor other women."

Gabrielle Maxey