Like a Boss: Three Black Women Hold Reins of Democratic Party

by: Zenitha Prince Senior AFRO Correspondent
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Three African-American women have been tapped to lead the Democratic Party during a critical time in the nation’s and political organization’s history.

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(Left Counter Clockwise) Rep. Marcia Fudge, Rev. Leah Daughtry , and Donna Brazile. (AP Photos/Paul Sancya and J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Marcia Fudge was named chair of the recently-concluded Democratic National Convention, while the Rev. Leah Daughtry was named CEO of the convention’s organizing committee. Most importantly, Donna Brazile was named chair of the Democratic National Committee following the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz amid controversy.

“It says how far our party has come, our nation has come,” Daughtry told AllDigitocracy.com. “I think that the women who came before us, from the suffragette movement all the way through Fannie Lou Hamer in 1964, who wasn’t able to be seated at the Democratic party, would be very proud of the fact that we moved this far to have three African-American women in leadership. That’s fantastic.”

In the wake of a fractious Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where Donald Trump was officially named the GOP’s presidential nominee, Democrats were determined to do better. Days before the Democratic National Convention opened in Philadelphia, however, e-mails were leaked showing Democratic National Committee staff allegedly favored Hillary Clinton over primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders. The resulting controversy led to the resignation of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and protest from Sanders’ supporters, both outside and inside the convention arena.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, Chair, Democratic National Convention quiets the crowd during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Monday, July 25, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Marcia Fudge had the difficult job of chairing the convention amid the political storm and almost immediately put delegates on notice that she was doesn’t take any mess.

As boos errupted from the convention floor at Fudge’s reference to Clinton during her opening remarks on July 25, she issued a call for both unity and respect.

“We’re all Democrats and we need to act like it,” she said in response to the dissenters, as reported by NBC News.

“I know there are many of you in this room who don’t know me,” the Ohio congresswoman added. “I intend to be fair, I want to hear the varying opinions here. I’m going to be respectful of you, and I want you to be respectful of me.”

Fudge’s colleagues in Washington and elsewhere say the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus was the perfect choice to lead the convention at such a critical time. No stranger to leadership, Fudge was elected to Congress in 2008 after the sudden death of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Prior to that, she was the first African American and the first female mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio. The former prosecutor also led the venerable African-American sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, from 1996 to 2000.

Rev. Leah Daughtry, CEO of the Democratic National Convention waves to delegates before speaking during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Monday, July 25, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Rev. Leah Daughtry, CEO of the Democratic National Convention waves to delegates before speaking during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Monday, July 25, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Joining her in DNC leadership is the Rev. Daughtry, CEO of the convention’s organizing committee, who reprised the role she first served in 2008 in Denver, when Barack Obama was first nominated for the presidency. The 52-year-old is the first person to hold the position of convention CEO twice.

In her role, Daughtry holds the responsibility of planning and executing all the logistics of the convention and she told NBCBLK she wanted to make the event “the most diverse and the most forward-looking convention that we’ve had in recent history.”

Daughtry is a longtime political strategist and Democratic operative. She served as the DNC’s chief of staff during the 2008 convention. She also held several senior-level positions at the U.S. Department of Labor during the Clinton administration and is the president and CEO of On These Things LLC, which provides strategic planning, event management, community engagement, and organizational development consulting services. The fifth-generation pastor has also served as resident fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. 

Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Donna Brazile speaks during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Donna Brazile speaks during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Rounding out the trio of Black boss ladies is Brazile, who is tasked with steering the Party following Schultz’s departure and amid the contention stemming from Clinton’s nomination.  This is not the first time the 56-year-old has served as interim chair of the DNC, but the assignment speaks to Brazile’s gravitas within the Democratic Party.

The Louisiana-born political strategist said she got her start in politics at the age of 9 when she worked to elect a City Council candidate who had promised to build a playground in her neighborhood. According to her bio, she worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, but was strongly influenced by her work on the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson’s 1984 campaign for president and was cemented as a political star when she served as Al Gore’s campaign manager in 2000, becoming the first African-American woman to run a national presidential campaign.

The regular CNN and ABC News contributor is also a respected author, speaker, adjunct professor and syndicated columnist.

During her speech at the convention on July 26—after which she sashayed off the stage—Brazile vowed to give her best at the helm of the Party.

“As your incoming chair of the Democratic National Committee, I promise you, my friends, I commit to all Americans that we will have a party that you can be proud of,” she said according to The Guardian. “We will elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”

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