“My mother used to tell me, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things. Make sure you are not the last.’” – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
Black women across America are making political history in 2018.
As Election Day approaches Tuesday, there are perhaps more Black women running for elected offices than any time in U.S. history. Nearly 500 African-American women are vying for political positions, according to www.blackwomeninpolitics.com, which compiled a comprehensive list of Black women competing for federal, state and local offices across the nation.
From Stacey Abrams, who is running for Governor of Georgia, to Mina Davis, who is seeking a seat in the Nebraska state legislature, to, Coral Evans, who is trying to become Mayor of Flagstaff, Arizona, to Monica Montgomery, who is hoping for a seat on the San Diego, California City Council, Black women are changing the nation’s political paradigm.
Pushing back against President Donald Trump, his racist political ads and bigoted social policies by Republican lawmakers, these determined women are emulating the historic leadership of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress and the first woman and African-American to run for president from a major political party.
As the debate over health care, immigration, gun control, jobs and education heats up, many Black women and women of color, all Democrats, are favored to win their respective races or locked in close contests.
Abrams, a former House of Representatives minority leader, could become the first African-American female governor in U.S. history and is leading Georgia state Secretary of State Brian Kemp by one point. The race has attracted national attention as Oprah Winfrey, former President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California all campaigned for Abrams.
(Obama is also campaigning for Andrew Gillum, who could become the first African-American governor of Florida. Gillum, the Mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, leads Republican Ron DeSantis by six points.)
Meanwhile, if neither Abrams nor Kemp can gain more than 50 percent of the vote in next Tuesday’s election, voters would return to the polls in December for a runoff between the two candidates.
“There are Black women running for political office all over the United States, and we need to know who they are,” according to the website www.blackwomeninpolitics.com
“It is abundantly clear that we need to start following the lead of Black women, because we show up and do what is important, even when we are being disenfranchised and sabotaged from doing the work. 2018 is especially important because midterm elections are coming up. We need all the information we can get.”
Here are some of the more hotly contested races where Black women could change the political landscape.
Jahana Hayes, a teacher, who, if elected, would be Connecticut’s first Black Democrat in Congress and the first Black congresswoman from any New England state. Hayes is a first-time candidate.
Ayanna Pressley, a Boston City Council member, could become one of the first African-American women elected to the House from any state in New England.
lhan Omar, a Minnesota state legislator, could become the first Muslim woman representative in Congress from Minnesota.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, an activist and first-time candidate, defeated Rep. Joseph Crowley, the fourth-ranking House Democrat. Ocasio-Cortez should win Tuesday and become the first woman elected to Congress in her 20s from either party in American history.
Kamala Harris, the only black female in the U.S. Senate – and only the second ever – is traveling the country rallying the troops and encouraging Black women to participate in the political process.
“You can imagine what I was told. It’s what you will be told many times in your life: ‘It’s not your turn, it’s not your time, there is nobody like you who has done that before, it’s going to be a lot of work.’ God forbid we want to work hard,” Harris said during a recent appearance at Spelman College in Atlanta.
“And I didn’t listen, and part of my advice to you is: You don’t listen, either. You do not listen when people tell you that. In fact, I like to say, I eat ‘No’ for breakfast. And so, I decided to run.”
And so are others.
Lisa Blunt Rochester is running for U.S. Congress in Delaware; Tabitha Johnson-Green is running for US Congress in Georgia, Dr. Geraldine Peten, is running for House of Representative in Arizona; Robin Gause is running for State House of Representatives in South Carolina; London Breed (pictured) is running for Mayor of San Francisco.
Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the Black Women’s Roundtable, said Black women are leading a powerful political coalition in 2018 and beyond.
“Black women are demanding that the progressive movement show us they respect our leadership and the power of our vote,” Campbell said in a statement, “by investing more in Black women running for office.”
What do you think?
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