In 2017, more than 30 prominent African American women wrote an open letter to then-Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, calling out the party for taking Black women’s political activism and leadership for granted.
“We have shown how Black women lead, yet the Party’s leadership from Washington to the state parties have few or no Black women in leadership,” the letter said. “More and more, Black women are running for office and winning elections – with scant support from Democratic Party infrastructure.”
More than four years since the letter was written, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is now the Democratic National Committee’s vice chair of civic engagement and voter protection. Kamala Harris is the nation’s the first Black woman and the first South Asian woman to be vice president.
Despite these gains, Black women continue to be underrepresented in statewide offices across the nation. In Virginia’s recent Democratic primary for governor, neither of the two Black women running won the race. (Virginia has also never elected a Black woman to Congress.)
It has been more than 50 years since Shirley Chisholm – the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first woman to be a major party candidate for U.S. president – ran for office. Black women continue to face the same challenges with which Chisholm struggled. Chief among them are a lack of institutional support, a lack of access to money, and the combined forces of racism and sexism.
The difficulties Black women face running
During Virginia’s Democratic primary race, two Black women were vying for the nomination – former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan. Their loss to former Gov. Terry McAuliffe – who was the front-runner in the race and outraised both candidates – is the latest example of the difficult path Black women running for statewide office across the nation face.
McAuliffe raised $12 million, more than double the almost $4 million raised by Carroll Foy and the almost $2 million McClellan raised. McAuliffe won with more than 60% of the vote. Carroll Foy finished second with about 20% of the vote. McClellan finished in third place with about 11% of the vote.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Mabinty Quarshie