(WASHINGTON) — Over the last year, Black women have shattered the glass ceiling from the White House to the Supreme Court. With the midterms election just months away, a record number of African-American women are chasing history, hoping to also break barriers in November.
”It is now that Black women, in the spirit of Shirley Chisholm, are stepping off the sideline in realizing that we can be more than organizers and staffers and volunteers. We can also be campaign operatives, and that we too can be candidates.” said Glynda Carr, president and CEO of Higher Heights, a nonpartisan political PAC dedicated to increasing the number of Black women elected to office.
“We have Black women running for governor across this country in the deep South, to the Midwest. And we are not only looking to send one Black woman to the US Senate, but a cohort. And that is about institutional and generational change that we’re normalizing Black women’s leadership,” Carr added.
Cheri Beasley, former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, and Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., are both running for Senate, hoping to change the landscape following Kamala Harris’ ascension to the vice presidency. Since Harris’ departure from the senate, there are currently no Black women senators in Congress. Only two African-American women have been elected to the Senate in history.
In the House, there are a record number of Black women serving in office — 25. None of them are Republican.
Tamika Hamilton, an Air Force veteran and congressional candidate from Sacramento, California, hopes to be a fresh face for the Republican party as the GOP seeks to take back the House and Senate.
Hamilton told ABC News’ Good Morning America she believes the key to flipping the House will be through inclusive and solution-oriented messaging.
“It has to be bigger than the Democrats are so bad. We need to bring balance back. We need to bring new fresh ideas, “ Hamilton said. “The biggest thing for me is that Black people know that there’s a home here and they’re going to find that home with me with the Republican Party.”
Carr says the country’s changing demographics has pushed major political parties to invest in candidates of color, but support still lags for Black women candidates.
“Black women aren’t a political monolith. And so we should be charging our party system to support black women candidates — Republicans and Democrats,” Carr said.
“The challenges are the same,” she continued. “It is just you have two parties that both have had a lack of investment in women candidates. Democrats have moved further along in that process, and that has been putting pressure on parties and political institutions to support candidates across the political spectrum.”
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who is running for mayor of Los Angeles, says one of her biggest challenges is being underestimated. If elected, she would be the first female mayor of the second largest city in the country.
“The question is always, ’is she really strong enough to do this,’” Bass said, calling out critics who question her ability to take on the city’s homeless crisis, an epidemic she vowed to fix, if elected.
She added, “In terms of being a woman of color, being an African-American woman, I think there is that question, ‘will she be able to represent everyone,’ which I think is interesting because that question is not mentioned if it’s a person who’s coming from the majority.”
While Republican Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears made history last November as the first African-American woman to hold her seat in the state’s history, the U.S. has never elected a Black female governor. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, South Carolina state Sen. Mia McCleod, Oklahoma state Sen. Connie Johnson and Iowa entrepreneur Diedre Dejear — all Democrats — are among those hoping to make historic gains in the gubernatorial races.
Mcleod tells GMA that the hurdles to the governorship are steep, with campaign finance challenges serving as a barrier.
“When it comes to fundraising, there are additional challenges for me because our state has never seen someone who looks like me who’s ever even offered themselves to run for governor and I’m running against a candidate who looks like every other candidate who has run for governor in this state. Some people may have already decided what a governor should look like, but I’d like to change that.” McCleod said.
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