Valuing Black Women In Politics

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.

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