50 years after the election of Shirley Chisholm as the first African American woman to serve in Congress, black women are flexing their electoral strength across the country. From their overwhelming impact in the Alabama special election, to the record number of black women running and winning elections at the state and local level, it is clear that there is a wave of electoral momentum.
Black women vote at the highest rates of any gender or racial subgroup; however, they are woefully underrepresented in elected office. While black women make up 7.3 percent of the country’s population, they account for less than 4 percent of Congress and state legislators.
On September 10, the Metropolitan Policy Program, in partnership with Higher Heights Leadership Fund, explored the tapped and untapped electoral strength of black women. David M. Rubenstein Fellow Andre Perry presented analysis on current seats held by black officials and the strength of the black electorate to make their voices heard. Afterwards, a panel of black female elected leaders discussed the implications and opportunities that can be harnessed and addressed in our modern political era.
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Free speech shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but it has been drawn into the larger dynamics of polarization in this country.