Black Women Set Record Running for Congressional Seats

A record 122 Black women filed to run for Congress this year, including Arkansas state senator Joyce Elliot. If she is elected in November, she will become the first Black lawmaker in Congress from Arkansas.

According to Collective PAC, nearly 60 women are still in the running for the general elections, as the primary season closes. Black women, who are 8% of the U.S. population but only 4.3% of Congress, were found to have the highest participation rate of any group in the 2008 and 2012 elections.

Black women tend to win majority-Black districts, but many of them running this year are running in majority-white or mixed-race districts, which have historically been won by Republicans. 

Reuters spoke with the candidates about their campaigns, with many feeling like they can relate to voters because they’ve experienced the kind of hardship constituents are experiencing due to the pandemic; which has put a spotlight on the lack of healthcare for millions of Americans and the lack of job security for most.

Aida McClellan-Winfrey, a psychologist and chair of the Talladega County Democratic Party in Alabama said of the pandemic, “It has really amplified and co-signed what I was already talking about with voters,” including the importance of agriculture and expanding Medicaid. 

Navy Veteran and Attorney running in the Democratic primary for a congressional seat in Florida Pam Keith, believes people are ready to see more Black women in Congress, “People are becoming more comfortable with seeing different kinds 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.”

The Realist Woman’s take:

Whenever women are in Congress, they look out for women’s interests. The interests of Black women are usually considered when there’s a Black woman in Congress. You have rich politicians looking out for the rich. White politicians looking out for their white constituents, and barely that if they aren’t rich. The way to have your group’s interests considered is to have racially and gender diverse representatives in Congress. 

I’m excited to learn about the record number of women who filed and the 60 that are still in the running. This year has to be that year when change came for us. Our lives, livelihoods, future, and freedom depend on it.