By Barney Blakeney
It may not be a new strand, but two Charleston women are weaving some progressive locks into the crowning glory created at local hair salons owned by Black and brown sisters. Tamika Gadsden and Brittany Mathis last week launched the voter outreach and education initiative Soul to Sol Salon Project. The Soul To Sol Salon Project is a bi-cultural outreach effort designed to equip beauty salons serving Black and Latinx communities with voter registration information and other resources.
Tamika Gadsden is a Charleston area organizer committed to fighting for racial and social justice and lifting up the voices of those in marginalized communities. In January, as the lead organizer with Women’s March South Carolina affiliate chapter, Gadsden spearheaded a tribute rally honoring the legacy and life of Septima P. Clark.
Currently, Gadsden is building the Charleston Activist Network, an organization geared to highlight the efforts of local grassroots leadership and organizations by helping to foster an environment for solutions. A graduate of New Jersey City University, Gadsden has used her degree in Political Science and experience in New Jersey state politics to create community initiatives designed to encourage civic engagement. She also works with local lawmakers and political candidates as a strategist.
Mathis also is passionate about making advances in racial, social, and economic equity. She has consulted, advised, and played a key role in campaigns for three South Carolina candidates, including Ginny Deerin’s Campaign for Secretary of State. Most recently, she served as an Election Fellow with RESULTS Educational Fund, where she educated members of Congress on key RESULTS global policy issues, including maternal and child health, and access to education. Currently, Mathis serves as the executive director of Charleston Friends of the Library and is a legislative fellow with Amnesty International USA. She is an executive board member for the Charleston County Democratic Women and a member of the Charleston Social Justice and Racial Equity Council.
The pair has been working together on various projects to encourage civic engagement and to build stronger coalitions and collaboratives. Last year, recognizing the demographic shifts placing women of color in positions of influence, they decided to co-create an initiative to utilize the nurturing places of self-renewal beauty salons have provided women of color in ways that can arm them with more education to increase their political, economic and civic influence.
The Soul To Sol project is more than voter registration, Gadsden said. Although in its infancy, it’s an initiative designed to empower Black and Latinx women. And what better place to start than an environment where female entrepreneurship intersects with cultural beauty and pride?
The name Soul To Sol reflects the cultural depth of Black women and the light from the sun Latinx women bring to the initiative, Gadsden said. Together the two groups represent one of the fastest growing demographics in the south. Sister to sister, soul to sol, the initiative reflects the energy and spirit of a more nimble, more refreshed effort to harness the power that belongs to women of color, she said. Led by the Charleston Activist Network and its partners, the Soul to Sol Initiative will incorporate workshops and other activities, especially those which help overcome language barriers, to galvanize the power in women of color. The goal is to eliminate barriers and jump hurdles, to get women engaged, Gadsden said.
The Soul To Sol Initiative Project will hold its first volunteer meeting at 6:30 p.m. June 6 at the Local Works building (1630 Meeting Street). For information go to: http://bit.ly/Soul2SolVolunteer, call (843) 732-4374 or email: Tamika@charlestonactivistnetwork.com.