CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin turned to ultra-feminist Ms. magazine and their podcast on Monday to promote her new book, Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power. Host Michele Goodwin asked Baldwin why she was leaving CNN, and the answer seemed to be, she couldn’t be enough of an activist!
I actually think the biggest part of the answer is because of this book and because of these trailblazing women, who I have had the privilege of interviewing, kind of like when you finish this journey of holding space with women like Gloria Steinem, and Stacey Abrams, and Megan Rapinoe, and Indigenous women fighting, you know, for the planet, or the women cofounders of Black Lives Matter…
You just sort of have like…I’m from the South, so I would say you sort of have a come to Jesus with yourself, and my come to Jesus involved realizing, in a painful way, but also in a blessing sort of way, that I could not hold space with these women and be the bravest version of myself…
Baldwin shared her adoration of Stacey Abrams:
I don’t even know where to begin with her. I mean I was lucky enough to meet her when she was running for governor in Georgia, and she had me over to her home, and we had this wide-ranging interview.…
I mean I remember the suit I was wearing, the shoes I was wearing. I remember this, you know, Dr. Seuss books in her first edition collection that she had. I remember what she was…it was just, you know, it was one of those…I’ll just never forget it, and so, since then, she is such a…she is what I would refer to as an OG huddler. Like, before huddling was a thing in mainstream.
Then there was soccer star Megan Rapinoe:
Well, I mean, she’s extraordinary and was amazing to literally wake up early after getting a huge, huge award from Sports Illustrated. She still had like a little bit of like pillow crease on her face as she dragged herself out of bed. I felt so bad, but you know, I’d been chasing her for many, many months. I was essentially like the lead stalker of Megan Rapinoe, and she blessed me with her presence over breakfast and coffee, but she is somebody who, to me, embodies intersection…intersectionality, and I cannot stress this enough. Like, we, as women, will not have success without being intersectional.
And the “incredible” story of the Marxist organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement:
Yeah. Well, obviously, as I’m sitting there, working on the book, George Floyd is killed, and we all like will never forget hearing him call to his dead mother at the very end as these officers’ knees are on his neck, and also sitting in that anchor chair through so many senseless killings of Black and brown bodies, I knew I needed to talk to Black Lives Matter. In fact, Alicia Garza, when I was on the phone with her, she made me realize something I hadn’t even known, which was when I sat there, I think it was 2014, and she came on TV with me, along with Patrisse Cullors, one of the other co-founders, she said to me, Brooke, wow, I was so…she said, Brooke, you were the first woman who put Black Lives Matter on national television.
And as a result of that, you know, Sunny Hostin, at the time, was at HLN, and she was in the hallway, and she ended up seeing our interview. Then, she put those women on HLN, which just started this whole ball rolling, and she said, you know, I’ve just written this book, and I wanted to tell you that I noted that, I noted that you gave us this voice, and I’ve always wanted to thank you for that, which, wow. I came back to her because unlike civil rights movements, oftentimes with male figures at the center of the movement, what Black Lives Matter does is she and Opal and Patrisse talk about is how, again, if you’re listening, you know, three women co-founded Black Lives Matter, which you would be surprised how many people think it’s men.
And they said to me, Alicia said, it’s about being leaderful, it’s not about being leaderless, but a lot of people don’t know that it’s three women who founded BLM because they’re not all up in everyone’s faces about it…
They’re about the work. They’re about the activism. They’re about the change. And so, you can always add to the circle, and it becomes more and more powerful, and I think back to the summer, just living in downtown New York and seeing all of these movements and protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, and how could I not talk to these women and feature Black Lives Matter prominently in this book because their story is incredible.
Garza even contributed a book blurb to Baldwin about how “solidarity can indeed be contagious.”
And then there were the gun-control activists like Moms Demand Action, who give her goosebumps:
I have been in that seat when mass shootings have occurred, and I’m in the middle of a segment, and the teleprompter goes blank, and my executive producer gets in my ear with very little information, and we stop everything, and we have to pivot to covering this tragedy in real time. It is something that I have had to do too many times. I’ve written opinion pieces about it. These people, these survivors, have become sort of odd friends of mine just through all of these experiences, and so, I wanted to make sure that I shined a light on this community.
There was a moment when I did something that hadn’t been done before after, you know, one of the latest school shoot…mass shootings, and I got 40 of these survivors or these families who’d been touched by gun violence together in the Newseum in Washington, DC. I’ll never, ever, ever forget it, and there was a moment when, in the front row, I see it now, Sharon Risher, the Reverend Sharon Risher, Black woman, lost several family members in Charleston in that church, was sitting next to now-congresswoman but then, you know, a mother, Lucy McBath, who’d lost her son Jordan in this loud music situation at a gas station.
And the raw emotion between these two women in that interview was palpable and the way they physically leaned on one another to string words together, I’ll never forget it. So, that just, that’s something that’s been in my heart for years, and so, what I wanted to make sure that I did was that I honored what is the largest grassroots huddle in America, which is Moms Demand Action, or Moms, and Lucy McBath, who was sitting there that day in the Newseum, is one half of what was the beginning of Moms. It started with Shannon Watts, who saw what happened in Sandy Hook with the little 1st graders being shot and killed and other teachers and the principal as well. She started a Facebook group, 75 followers, but ultimately, it was Lucy McBath who reached out to Shannon and said, hey, in a really lovely way, and you talk about intersectionality, you know, Lucy McBath, African American, Shannon Watts, white woman.
She was really focusing on these school shootings and like it affecting white kids in suburban schools, and Lucy gently said, hey, you know, we need to broaden the lens of it, and let’s, let me help you. Let’s bring it into the faith communities. Let’s bring it into the inner cities. Let’s talk about gun violence in a much broader scale. And that, then, led to this giant organization that is Moms, and I’ve been out on shooting locations, you know, covering the aftermath and seeing these women come up to my live location wearing their Moms t-shirts, it gives me goosebumps just thinking about how these women are able to work together, and also men, let me be fair, too, within EveryTown for Gun Safety, to work to change legislation, to create more, as they would say, gun sense legislation in this country so that these shootings stop happening.
It’s always a little amazing to hear CNN anchors say they can’t be “brave” and express their “progressive” opinions on the air.