By Brianna McAdoo, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
2018 marks 50 years since the first Black woman Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) was elected to the U.S. Congress; and in 2018 Black women have continued her legacy making their mark in politics with these past midterm elections. From Minnesota’s Ihan Omar, who became the first Somali-American woman to ever be elected to Congress, to the 19 Black women that became judges in Harris County, Texas. Black women showed up and showed out as they have always done throughout history.
The Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center & Howard University Department of Political Science came together to host “Sisters in the Struggle: Black Women and the 2018 Elections” on Tuesday Nov. 13 at Howard University. Moderated by CNN Senior Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, the panelists Dr. Niambi Carter, Dr .Keneshia Grant and Dr. Keesha Middlemass discussed the impacts, challenges faced and future predictions for Black women in politics.
Grant told the AFRO her biggest realization after the discussion held from the panel and the 2018 elections. “Black women’s political power is now transitioning from electoral and organizing power, to political power, in the sense that they are getting elected into office in higher numbers, ” Dr. Grant told AFRO. And so I think it’s important to think about how Black women approach politics differently- kind of on all levels. But now we’re starting to think about how and I’m excited to think about how that turns out in terms of governing.
Grant is an alumna to the Obama Administration where she served as a Commissioner’s Special Assistant at the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She currently serves as an assistant professor of Political Science at Howard University.
The panelists delved into the various ways in which voter suppression was an impediment that took shape in different forms throughout America in this past midterm elections. They also discussed the ways in which White supremacy has become a political tactic to win elections.
“Your vote might be a secret but who you are is not,” said Carter who also works as an assistant professor in the Political Science department at Howard University.
“I think the biggest take away from today is that politics happen on a lot of levels. That if you’re only attentive to what’s happening on a national level, you miss a lot of things that are happening at the state and local level which are really exciting. And more Black women have really been in active support of their representation and for their office holding,” Carter told the AFRO.
The professor had an optimistic outlook on Black women’s success in the most recent election.
“So Black women may not have won the governor races, but they become judges in Texas, they’re mayor. These are important offices too, and I think we should pay more attention to that.”