Vermont’s only Black female lawmaker revealing the reason why she left office may spark more conversations in coming weeks. Kiah Morris, who resigned last month, detailed the negative trials she faced while working for the state that Bernie Sanders represents as senator.
Morris, 42, a Chicago native, cited years of racial harassment as a prime motivator in her decision to leave her post and a re-election race. She also emphasized white supremacy and “toxic political discourse” as severe issues in the state. Issues, she said, that were often overlooked.
“There were individuals in the community and throughout the state that we were finding were parts of white supremacist groups,” Morris said about the majority-white state, according to BBC. “Because we were so progressive and because we have been working so hard on so many issues of equality, we just sort of fell asleep and didn’t pay attention to that.”
Morris, who in 2014 became the second Black female member ever elected to the Vermont state legislature, had a horrible experience at times. She received death threats, and vandals targeted her property. She once even found swastikas painted on the trees near her house.
An online bully and repeat offender prompted her to get a restraining order, but threats continued. The threats got worse with Trump’s election, she also said. However, those who sought to push Morris out of office couldn’t undo what she had done: pushing legislation extending free contraceptive coverage to residents, working to control pollution and “address racial and income disparities in the education and the criminal justice systems.”
Morris feels that she has taken her life back with vacating the office after such turbulence. She believes that people should not be blamed for putting their safety or their families’ safety first by leaving high-profile political offices that can bring terror to their lives. As several other Black women move forward with running for various offices nationwide, Morris’ experience offers a cautionary tale—or more motivation for them to fight against racism.