Black candidates were instrumental in helping the Democrats win the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, enabling Democrats to end one-party rule and turn up the heat on President Donald Trump.
But it was a mixed result, with disappointments in places like Florida where Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum lost in a close race for governor. At the same time, several Black candidates made history, like Ayanna Pressley who become Massachusetts’ first Black woman in Congress.
Some of the elections were plagued with a number of instances of attempts to suppress the Black vote, including a concerted effort in Georgia ahead of Election Day that continued on Tuesday.
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Here are five takeaways from the 2018 midterm elections:
Black women candidates are winners
While some African-American female candidates like Jahana Hayes were victorious and others such as Vangie Williams came up short, they are all winners. Some of these women made history by winning competitive primary elections, as they overcame racism, gender bias and obstacles within the Democratic Party.
Racism was an effective GOP tool
The Republican base responded to racist dog whistles in several elections. Ron DeSantis infamously warned Florida voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his rival Andrew Gillum, who is African American. Within days, Florida residents began to receive racist robocalls that mocked Gillum.
Stacey Abrams was also targeted with racist robocalls in Georgia shortly after Trump called her unqualified to be governor of Georgia before holding a rally for her GOP rival Brian Kemp.
Triumph for anti-Trump activism
“This was a remarkable wave of grassroots activism that swept across the country — with women and people of color leading the way. From a U.S. House of Representatives that reflects the will of the people to the passage of Amendment 4 in Florida, which restored voting rights to convicted felons, this election was an overwhelming rebuke of Trump and Trumpism, and a show of support for candidates who look like America and campaigned on a bold, forward-looking and inclusive vision,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson.
Vigilance needed to combat voter suppression
Fighting against voter suppression is an ongoing struggle that requires tenacity. Georgia emerged as the epicenter for voting rights, where activists filed lawsuits against Kemp to ensure the votes of African Americans were counted. Kemp desperately used every trick in the book to win his election.
“Voter suppression played a huge role in the silencing of the political voices of the Black community and all people of color,” the NAACP president said. “As we saw in Georgia and Tennessee, Republicans engaged in a massive voter suppression strategy that has included further rolling back the Voting Rights Act.”
Black folks will turn out for midterm elections
Black voter turnout was high in 2008 and 2012 when President Barack Obama was running. The numbers tumbled in 2016. It was unclear what would happen in 2018. Early exit polls suggested that African-Americans showed up in strong numbers for the midterms, according to ABC News.
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