Updated: Sep 10, 2020
by Taylor Lonas
This year marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. In 1920, the nineteenth amendment
of the United States Constitution granted women the right to vote. While some celebrate this
victoriously, many African American women recognize that voting privileges were exclusively
extended to white women. The amendment failed to grant universal suffrage and Black women
continued to battle voting restrictions until the passage of the Voting Rights Act forty-five years
Just as Black women were forced to wait to gain access to voting, they have also been waiting to
be given space within the world of political campaigns. Black women are underrepresented
amongst political candidates at the local, state, and national level. Black women are more likely
to be discouraged from running for elected office in comparison to not only their non-Black
counterparts, but even Black men. Those that pursue office are less likely to receive the
endorsements and donations that will get their campaign effectively up and running. Black
women battle sexism and racism in their neighborhoods and work spaces, but even more so
within politics. They are often perceived as unintelligent and incapable of managing political
office, which many consider to be men’s work. Black women are forced to support and rely on
themselves, even as they endeavor to fight for equity and equality for all upon their hopeful
election to office. Black women have continually been at the forefront of political change and
grassroots movements and yet, they are often pushed aside and ignored when they show up to
claim their rightful space within politics.
Many have heard the old saying, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Representation matters in
each and every field of work. Barack Obama’s presidential election inspired Black little boys
across the country. Becoming president of the United States suddenly became attainable,
tangible, and feasible. Families were filled with excitement as he took office and hope as they
looked towards the future.
The recent announcement of Kamala Harris as the democratic vice-presidential pick has shaken
the country by storm. Regardless of political affiliation, the appointment of the first African
American woman to a presidential ticket is not only a defining historical moment, but is the
representation that little Black girls have been waiting for, longing for and needing.
Black women have long known that they are capable of holding high-ranking political positions
and offices. They have patiently waited for everyone else to come to the same realization and
actively support them in their efforts.
Senator Kamala may be the first Black woman on a presidential ticket, but get ready because she
surely won’t be the last.