Of the 122 Black or multi-racial Black women who filed for seats in this year’s congressional election, almost 60 are still in the race, according to Collective PAC.
What We Know:
- Black women make up only 4.3% of Congress, but represent almost 8% of the population according to a report by Center of Women and Politics and Higher Heights for America, a political action committee which aims to elect more progressive Black women to office. The same report says Black women are also underrepresented in state and locally-elected positions.
- Previously, it was found that Black women who run in districts with higher concentrations of black constituents had a higher chance of winning. This election cycle we are seeing more Black women candidates running in mostly white or mixed districts reports NBC.
- Some candidates are facing challenging scenarios, symbolic or otherwise, while seeking office. In June, Joyce Elliott, a congressional candidate from Arkansas, spoke in the shadow of a Confederate monument while attending a protest against racism in White County, a county that is more than 90% white. The environment didn’t stop her. “I really decided I needed to run because I could see a pathway to winning,” she said afterward.
- Many candidates are searching to represent different—often unheard—voice in their communities. “We need to have more people, average, everyday American citizens who are there fighting for average, everyday American citizens,” said Kimberly Walker, a former corrections officer and veteran running for Congress in Florida.
- Though the number of Black women in elected office is growing, some candidates are still vying for the lauded first, such as Candace Valenzuela, a congressional candidate from Texas.
My name is Candace Valenzuela and I will be the first Afro-Latina elected to Congress.
Join us on this journey: 👉🏽 https://t.co/kYirR7C1ofpic.twitter.com/04wqgNuKnP
— Candace Valenzuela (@candacefor24) July 15, 2020
Black women candidates may be poised to tap into the powerful Black-women vote. According to the Center for American Women in Politics, “In recent elections, voter turnout rates for women have equaled or exceeded voter turnout rates for men”. The number of Black women voters exceeded the number of Black male voters in every presidential election since 1980. One example is 2016, when 10.1 million eligible Black women voted in the general election compared to only 7 million Black men.