Updated: Apr 5
Being a Black woman in America comes with many challenges, but to be a Black woman in politics comes with a bigger set of challenges. At the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, politics dominated the news, which made me wonder why I never see many Black women in politics, or they are not seen as much as White women. In my opinion Black women in politics are being overlooked and the world needs to know they are making their mark in politics although they may not be widely seen.
Black women have a history of political involvement. Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) helped advise president Franklin Delano Roosevelt on minority affairs and interracial relations, advocating for blacks to be served by new deal policies (Time, 2017). She also was a daughter of a former slave and thought that a good education was the key to racial equality. Bethune started a school in Daytona Beach Florida and became one of the very first schools to open to Blacks. The political influence of Black women didn’t stop there. Another powerful Black politician is Carol Moseley Braun, who was the first woman of color that was elected to the U.S senate representing Illinois from 1993 to 1999. She also helped to advance gun control, women’s rights, and the historic preservation of underground railroads sites.
A modern-day influential Black female politician is Stacey Abrams. Abrams is a politician and lawyer that became the first African American woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union address. According to Oprah Magazine (2020), Stacey Abrams helped 800,000 people in Georgia register to vote, which some speculate was a response to the 55,000 votes she needed in 2018 to become the first Black woman governor of Georgia. Through the years Stacey Abrams has accomplished a lot in politics and she has been overlooked. It is unfortunate, but honestly, I didn’t know who she was until I conducted research to write this article. It is an example of how Black women are overlooked in politics and not widely represented in the media.
There are numerous Black women in politics that are overlooked because of stereotypes, which often portrays Black women in politics as angry or lacking credentials. Black female politicians are inspiring young girls to pursue their dreams and work hard to accomplish their goals. Seeing powerful Black female politicians moves me and pushes me to do what I want in life. Their representation lets me know I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. Get inspired and check out Centers for American Women in Politics (2021) website, https://cawp.rutgers.edu/women-color-elective-office-2021, for a list of Black female politicians to discover the influence they’re making in society.