She Ran and She Voted and She Won
“The law cannot do it for us. We must do it for ourselves. Women in this country must become revolutionaries” – Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected into Congress
“Unless women are prepared to fight politically, they must be content to be ignored politically” – Alice Paul, Suffragette Movement Leader
Going from a feminist President like Barack Obama to the current misogynistic Cheeto-from-hell has been a devastating shock to the hearts and minds of women all over this country. The only good thing about this Presidency is that it has lit a fire within the women of this country like no other time in my lifetime. Women know the quotes above all too well and that’s because the feminist movement has always been about fighting to seen, heard and given a fair chance for fear of being dismissed, disregarded and ignored. The hundreds of women running for office this year knew, that if they didn’t get involved in the political process, especially with so many of our rights threatened by this administration, there would literally be no one fighting for us. They stepped up to represent us and all of their hard work paid off on election day. The 2018 midterms was a win for women.
Before we break down the night, it would be a disservice to readers to talk about last night’s election without mentioning that 50 years ago this week in 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to Congress, representing New York’s 12th congressional district for seven terms. Many of the women elected followed in Chisholm’s footsteps and made their own history.
Democrats took control of the House with women securing 95 of 218 seats. Women hold 12 seats in the Senate and nine in the Governorships. Approximately 42 women of color were elected in the midterms and 118 women were elected overall.
It was a night of firsts for many of our newly elected leaders. Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids were the first Native American women elected to Congress. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia were the first Latina women elected to Congress in Texas. Jahana Hayes became the first black woman elected to Congress in Connecticut while Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Ayanna Pressley was the first black woman elected to Congress in Massachusettes, Letitia James became the first black woman to be elected Attorney General in New York and Juliana Stratton was the first black woman elected Lieutenant Governor in Illinois and two 29-year old women, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abby Finkenauer, became the youngest women elected to Congress.
There were many more historic firsts in this election, like Paula Dance becoming the first African American woman to be elected Sheriff of Pitt County in North Carolina and the 19 black women who ran for judicial seats in Harris County, Texas and won! This Congress and this nation’s local and regional offices have more diversity in race, sexual orientation and in gender. That’s a win for all people. When everyone is represented, everyone has a voice. It’s that simple. This election was really about the women candidates and the women voters and the difference they all made to this country in one night. We might not see the differences in criminal justice reform tomorrow, security for reproductive rights, stricter laws on guns, prison reform, living wages, investment in communities suffering from toxic water and so on, but as long as women are running things, we will see those changes in our future.
I wanted to give an honorable mention to Georgia’s Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. It’s possible that she’ll be participating in a run-off election with Republican Brian Kemp in Georgia’s Governor’s race due to voter suppression concerns. I know I’m still pulling for her to win, which would be yet another historic win for women, African Americans and the state of Georgia.