This was a big week for Black women’s leadership, with California Sen. Kamala Harris officially nominated as the Democratic candidate for vice president, alongside presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden. In her acceptance speech as the first Black woman and first South Asian to be nominated for vice president by a major party, Harris emphasized that her mother raised her and her sister Maya to be “proud, strong Black women” who knew and took pride in their Indian heritage. Harris’s historic position places her within a long lineage of Black women who’ve led the way not only in politics, but also in social movements for voting rights, racial justice, and more. In case you missed it, here are a few of Prism’s top stories celebrating the leadership of Black women.
Black women’s fight for the franchise is reshaping democracy (by Carolyn Copeland)
“We have to be more thoughtful about being prepared for [voter suppression],” said DeJuana Thompson, the founder of Woke Vote, an organization that engages and mobilizes young African American voters in Alabama. “If you register somebody to vote three weeks before an election, they don’t know anything about voter suppression, so they don’t even know that they’re being targeted when they walk in.” Thompson was one of the lead organizers during the high-profile 2017 Alabama Senate special election between Doug Jones and Roy Moore. Black women are directly credited with the victory of Jones, who became the state’s first democratic senator in 25 years. Exit polls showed that 98% of Black women and 93% of Black men supported Jones.
For Black women, suffrage was a vehicle for addressing the issues and concerns affecting their families and communities. Voting alone was never the end goal. This work continues on through elected officials like Tennessee State Rep. London Lamar, who joins a host of other young Black women state representatives like Summer Lee in Pennsylvania, Sammi Brown in West Virginia, and Park Cannon in Georgia. Collectively, these young women are challenging the status quo as to how the business of politics is done in their respective state legislatures and making it possible to bring the community along with them into the process.
There’s example after example. After the Civil War in the late 19th century, Mississippi-born Ida B. Wells exposed the gruesome truth about widespread lynching of Black people in the South, using investigative journalism to drive social change. In the 20th century, Black women continued to push the country forward on issues of racial justice, gender justice, and economic justice, to name a few.
See you next week!