Speakers urge young women to stand up for beliefs at Detroit Pistons, Priority Health webinar

Ibtihaj Muhammad
Ibtihaj Muhammad
Dominique Charriau/Getty Images
by Vince Ellis
Special for Pistons.com

Olympic fencing medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad recalled becoming the face of Muslim athletes in 2016 shortly after President Trump’s executive order banning travel from several majority Muslim countries.

Former U.S. women’s national soccer team standout Lauren Holiday mentioned the legal dispute vs. the U.S. Soccer Federation over compensation.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson detailed her long career of supporting the disenfranchised.

The message to young women was clear during the third installment of the “Girls Dream Big” webinar: stand up for your beliefs.

“It was an opportunity to show people a different side of Islam,” Muhammad said of 2016. “I was in high school during 9/11 and it being a really difficult moment as a young Muslim kid and have these really negative sentiments attached to my identity. I’ve always wanted to take control of that – not necessarily feeling like I owe it to anyone – but I owe it to my community to uplift in a way and show kids who look like me that these are the things we are capable of.

“You don’t have to live by society’s limited expectations of you. We’re a lot more than that.”

Benson was the keynote speaker for Thursday’s event, the third of four webinars sponsored by the Detroit Pistons and Priority Health.

Priority Health CEO Joan Budden joined Holiday, Muhammad and Benson for the event hosted by Sabrina Galloway, the wife of Pistons guard Langston Galloway.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered a taped message to begin the event, which drew 350 registrants.

Former Detroit Shock standout Deanna Nolan, WNBA commissioner Cathy Englebert, NBA G League representative Stacey Lovelace, Olympian ice dancer Meryl Davis and Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud were the participants in the first outing devoted to women making careers in the sports world.

Journalist Jemele Hill, TV personality Rachel Lindsay, Fox 2 anchor Hilary Golston, radio personality Shannon Murphy and MLive Media Group sports writer Lauren Williams participated in the May 21 panel geared toward careers in the media.

The final event on June 4 will feature notable women entrepreneurs.

The series is being held in response to the cancellation of a women’s summit that was going to be held March 20 when the Pistons were scheduled to face the Golden State Warriors.

Sports leagues have suspended games in response to the COVID-19 crisis, but community initiatives continue.

That’s led to the Pistons pivoting to the series of webinars to support the dreams of young women.

Benson recalled starting her career investigating hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal nonprofit specializing in civil rights.

The organization is based in Montgomery, Ala., a short distance from Selma, which was the scene of historic marches for civil rights led by Martin Luther King Jr.

The job led to a legal career where voting rights are a consistent theme and a way for her voice to be heard.

“Working so close to Selma where so many sacrifices were made in 1965 so we could have a Voting Rights Act underscored to me the importance of democracy, ensuring that everyone having a seat at the table meant everyone having a vote and a voice in every election,” Benson said.

“It’s really just ensuring everyone has a voice and we recognize that every voice has a right to be equally heard in our society and we’re all better when that happens.”

To register for the final webinar of the series, go here: pistons.com/girlsdreambig

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