From Stacey Abrams to Kamala Harris, a handful of Black women politicians and candidates have been helping the Democratic party to gain traction despite the group’s history of inadequate support of their efforts.
One of the main ways in which Black women are making a strong impact on behalf of the Party is by running for public office. The list of women who have won primaries in recent months indicates that voters want women of color represented in political positions across the nation. Black women candidates are challenging underrepresentation with strategic voter mobilization efforts and agendas important to voters. With that, they have secured notable victories, from Abrams in the Georgia gubernatorial primary to Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts’ 7th congressional district race.
The number of Black women candidates who are running for various offices has also brought attention to the party, with 43 on the ballot. Jahana Hayes, a teacher, is running for Connecticut’s 5th congressional district, and Lauren Underwood, a political advisor and registered nurse, set her sights on representing Illinois 14th Congressional district. Letitia James, public advocate for the city of New York, has entered the state’s Attorney General race.
Of course, Black women Democrats already in office have pushed for more transparency, accountability and social change in their roles. San Francisco Mayor London Breed had advocated for the city to stop charging post-jail fees to residents already in poverty — a wish which came true when a court pardoned a $32 million fee for 21,000 people last month. Senator Harris, the lone Black woman in the Senate, posed questions to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about his views on Charlottesville “Unite The Right” rally and more during his confirmation hearing this week.
Black women who are running to the polls, not for office, have also held it down for the party, which is seeking to gain a majority in the House and Senate come November. The voting bloc has its strength in numbers, having gotten Abrams to a primary win in May. Black women had also shown up at the ballot box in large numbers for elections in Virginia and Alabama last year.
Both candidates and voters have asked the Democratic party to better address issues facing people of color such as healthcare and the economy. Democrats haven’t even thrown enough support behind Black women candidates, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) only endorsing Underwood. Democrats are being called on to do more to support candidates so they can do more to support voters and address their issues.