Black women in politics: Claiming our seat at the table
By Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence, Opinion Contributor
Women of color ran for congressional office in record numbers in 2020 following the successful 2018 “Year of the Women” midterm elections. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, Black women set a record with 117 candidates entering House primaries, demonstrating that Black women are leading change in our communities on every issue from the environment, to health care, to the concerns that disproportionately impact communities of color. With 27 Black women expected to lead in the 117th Congress, the legislative branch moves one step closer to representing the makeup of our nation. Although we have made progress in political representation, our work is far from over.
In the same year that we commemorated the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the 15th Amendment, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, and the 55th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) became the first Black and South Asian woman to ascend to the vice presidency, making her the highest-ranking woman in politics. In her first remarks as vice president-elect, Harris emphatically proclaimed, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.” For Black women and girls everywhere, Vice President-elect Harris’s rise to the highest levels of government redefines the possibilities for women of color and broadens their horizons for political ambitions.
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