taking the words of Jesus seriously

Did you know that the first feminist convention to promote women’s rights was not in Seneca Falls in 1848? And it was not all white.

A good decade before the famed Seneca Falls Convention, the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women convened in New York City in 1837. It featured both white and black women as delegates and leaders.

In 1838, the second annual Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women was convened in Pennsylvania by a similar set of black and white women leaders. Among them were my ancestors: Margaretta and Sarah Forten (my second cousins five times removed). Margaretta was among the original 14 women who formed the Philadelphia Women’s Abolitionist Society.

During this gathering, an angry mob surrounded the Pennsylvania Hall while the women preached and declared the right of all humanity to be free. The mob busted out windows and threw rocks. The following night, the mob burned down the Hall, only three days after it opened.

Help us walk this land…and remember…and muster the courage of our foremothers to organize toward a better world.

The #RubyWooPilgrimage will roll to the land where the Second Convention took place. The land where the Pennsylvania Hall once stood on Independence Mall, funded by the black and white women leaders of the Philadelphia Women’s Abolition Society.

Imagine a diverse group of 40 Christian women speakers, writers, and leaders embarking on a three-day pilgrimage through the intersectional story of women’s struggles for equality in the U.S.

From the origins of the early meeting in Seneca Falls to immigrants’ struggles in New York City, to what it looks like to be an ally in Philadelphia and onward to the land where Harriet Tubman dreamed of freedom in Maryland, we will journey together.

Then imagine the last day of that pilgrimage where suffragists won the 19th Amendment – on Capitol Hill – pressing our congressional representatives to fix the Voting Rights Act, fix our broken immigration system to protect women and families, and protect women fleeing domestic violence.

This is the #RubyWooPilgrimage.

Why Ruby Woo?

Ruby Woo is a metaphor, a symbol, of the God-ordained power that many women of faith have been trained to hide.

In early May this year, 35 Jesus-following women leaders were randomly tagged into a Twitter cloud kicked off by a profound request tossed to the Twitterverse by speaker/author Diedra Riggs.

Diedra asked: “What women leaders are you for?”

By the end of the day, 35 powerful Christian women thought leaders were looped into a Twitter conversation. Halfway through the conversation, Kathy Khang asked if anyone had heard of Ruby Woo lipstick. I hadn’t heard of it, but soon women chimed in from all over the country:

“I LOVE, #RubyWoo!”

“I wear #RubyWoo every time I preach!”

“I’ve been wearing #RubyWoo for years!”

A week later my Ruby Woo came in the mail, and I added my picture to the cloud of women leaders flashing their power on Twitter. Soon the conversation went deep among this incredibly diverse group, and I had a flash of an idea.

That idea became the #RubyWooPilgrimage.

The journey launches November 12-16. We’ve been organizing since May. And this thing is happening! But we need your help to get everyone on the bus who wants to participate.

Please give whatever you can to support women empowered to empower other women. And follow along on Twitter as we share insights and reflections from the #RubyWooPilgrimage.

About The Author


Lisa Sharon Harper is the founder and president of Freedom Road, LLC, and the author of several books, including the critically acclaimed, "The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right." Asked why she does what she does, Lisa's answer is clear: “So that the church might be worthy of the moniker ‘Bride of Christ.'" Through preaching, writing, training, network development, and public witness, Lisa—an Auburn Senior Fellow—engages the church in the work of justice and peacemaking. She was named “#5 of the Top 13 Women to Watch in 2012” by the Center for American Progress and was awarded the 2013 Faith and Justice Leadership Award by the National Black Women’s Round Table. She formerly served as the Chief Church Engagement Officer at Sojourners.

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