Barbara Powell, assistant to the vice president for Government and Community Affairs, has been appointed to a one-year term on the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women.
Powell is one of three black women, and the only Harvard or Radcliffe administrator, to sit on the Commission which was created by executive order of Gov. Francis W. Sargent in June 1971.
Powell said last night that she considered declining the appointment because of the poor representation of minority group women on the 40-member commission.
"The concerns of minority and oppressed people can't be well served through this sort of commission, and that is where my personal commitment lies," she said.
"As a black person, I am black first and then a woman," she continued. "We cannot afford the luxury of a separate women's movement. I am willing to work cooperatively with the commission based on my own experience, but I don't speak as a black woman. I speak as an individual and from my own choice of commitments."
What makes the appointment significant to her is that the issues which the Commission is studying in terms of women are similar to the problems which affect minority groups, Powell said.
"Problems of employment, housing, financial and credit dealings, education and criminal justice are in no way unique to women," she said. "They have affected blacks and other oppressed groups all along."
Powell said that she hopes to work on the Commission's task force on prisons because of her work with inmates at Norfolk State Prison.
"This is an area where legislation is relevant to both men and women," she said.
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