Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman that was elected to Congress back in 1968, and only 46 Black women have followed since then. However, 2020 is a record-breaking year in many fields, including this one: at least 122 Black women have filed to run for Congress, as reported by Reuters. To make it even better, about 60 of them are still in play, of which some have already won their primaries, or because their primary hasn’t happened yet. However, they’re headed for general elections in November!
Despite Black women being a rather large voting faction in the Democratic Party in the last 50 years, the political office has been out of reach for this group of people. When you put it in comparison, the first-ever woman elected to Congress was Jeannette Rankin in 1917, a white woman from Montana, and the first Black woman to be elected in Congress was Shirley Chisholm, more than 50 years later.
A report issued by the Higher Heights Leadership Fund and the Center for American Women and Politics stated that a record number of Black women served in Congress between 2018 and 2019. To be specific, Black women elected officials have achieved the “largest gain in representation at the state legislative level since 1994”. Additionally, the report reads that 2018 highlighted new sites for Black women’s advancement in congressional representation, but it also revealed the underrepresentation of Black women as U.S. Senate candidates and officeholders.
Pam Keith, a Navy Veteran that runs in the Democratic primary in Florida told Reuters that she believes people are becoming more comfortable with seeing different kinds of people in congress.ds of people in congress.
“You don’t know what it looks like to have powerful Black women in Congress until you see powerful Black women in Congress.” – she added.
Having Black women in Congress increases the likelihood that a large group of people will be represented by someone who looks like them and understands where they come from.
We hope that 2020 will be a turning point when it comes to increased representation in Washington, as this is really a chance to change our history.