By Glynda C. Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen
A representative democracy – one where government leaders are chosen by its citizens – is the foundation by which the American political system is known. However, this democracy does not always take into account the interests of Black women though they make up a large portion of the overall Black electorate.
You’ve heard the dismal statistics. Despite being 7.4% of the U.S. population, Black women are just 3.4% of Congress, less than 1% of statewide elected executive officials, 3.5% of state legislators, and 1.9% of mayors in cities with populations over 30,000. Four Black women serve as mayors in the 100 largest cities in the United States. Historically, only 35 Black women from 15 states have ever served in the U.S. Congress, only 10 Black women from 9 states have ever served in statewide elected executive offices, and three states have still never elected a Black woman to their state legislature. That is simply unacceptable particularly as we head towards the 2016 Presidential Election.
With less than 11 months until the 2016 Presidential Election, all eyes are on Black women. Since 2006, turnout among Black women has consistently outpaced any other demographic group. Candidates fully understand that if they want to win office, their campaign must include an appeal to Black women voters.
Without a doubt, candidates and pundits believe that they have the Black woman all figured out. They say we’ll only vote for a Black candidate. They say we’ll only vote for a Democrat. They say that we’ll only vote in the presidential election. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and leave it to politicians to define what we and our communities need.
Movement building is at the heart of any effort to both push for and enforce change. This year, many of you have joined us to host and/or attend a salon, elevated your voices during our monthly Sunday Brunch with Higher Heights, shared our efforts with your family and friends via social media, and downloaded our newest report. In 2015 nearly 32 salons were hosted and attended by more than 500 women. You know that there is strength in numbers and your support has been instrumental in ensuring that Black women are empowered to make informed political decisions.
At Higher Heights, we have launched an aggressive #BlackWomenLead 2015 end-of-the year campaign to raise $50,000 and recruit 200 new members by December 20th.
Can we count on you to join us in this final push to end 2015 strong and bring in 2016 ready to ramp up our efforts?
By joining this campaign as a Higher Heights Builder, you will be supporting our efforts to expand Higher Heights’ #BlackWomenLead Nation from $25 grassroots members to $1,000 or more supporters. With just 7 days until December 20th, we are asking you to reach out to your network via phone calls, in-person meetings, emails, texts and social media to recruit members to contribute by the end of the campaign. We will also provide tools for you to recruit members.
At Higher Heights, we understand the importance of Black women’s voices 365 days a year. As the only organization dedicated solely to harnessing Black women’s political power and leadership potential to overcome barriers to political participation and increase Black women’s participation in civic processes, we continue to work tirelessly to keep the diverse concerns of Black women at the forefront. But, we can’t do it without you.
To those who have already answered this “call to action” as a Higher Heights Builder, thank you. And thank you in advance to the rest of you who will join us to expand our network and grow our #BlackWomenLead Nation. Together, we can change the political landscape for Black women.