With the midterm elections two weeks away, it’s clear that a historically overlooked voting block — Black women — who are more politically engaged than any other demographic — will make all the difference for Democratic candidates.
“Alabama was this tipping point around Black women’s leadership,” said Glynda Carr, co-founder of Higher Heights for America, which focuses on galvanizing voters.
After 98 percent of Black women voted for Doug Jones and drove an upset Senate win in Alabama in December, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said that Black women are the backbone of the Party.
Let me be clear: We won in Alabama and Virginia because #BlackWomen led us to victory. Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party, and we can’t take that for granted. Period.
— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) December 13, 2017
But the political activism didn’t end there.
In preparation for the midterm elections, many Black women have been involved in a nationwide push for voting mobilized by the rejection of President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric. For example, Trump called Black NFL players kneeling during the national anthem “sons of b**ches.”
The call is to squash retro-racism evident at deadly events such as the Unite the Right rally led by white nationalists last year in Charlottesville. Trump said there were “fine people on, on both sides.”
The push to get people to vote is also over concerns regarding major issues such as health care and education.
Women in Alabama, like DeJuana Thompson, a Birmingham native, launched WokeVote, in an effort to galvanize Black millennials.
In Mississippi, dozens of women met on the campus of Jackson State University in September to strategize how to utilize the energy of Black female voters.
“All of us who are in the room right now are midwives for transformation,” Rukia Lumumba, daughter of the late Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, and co-founder of the Electoral Justice Project, told the Clarion Ledger.
The gathering was part of a stop on a tour across the Deep South organized by LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund.
Brown also initiated a bus trip for about 40 Black senior citizens last week in Georgia to take them to vote. But county administrator Adam Brett heard about the bus ride and stopped the trip.
In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp are in a tight gubernatorial race. Kemp also happens to be the Secretary of State, and Abrams is calling for him to resign for abusing his power to prevent Blacks from voting.
If elected, Abrams would make history as the first Black female governor in the country. Black women who are supporting Abrams do so because they believe in her platform and planned policies.
She doesn’t take their support for granted.
“We are leveraging the enthusiasm and support of the African-American women’s community to motivate and galvanize the communities that they touch — and that means every community in the state of Georgia,” Abrams told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
As with historic gubernatorial races, including Ben Jealous as the Democratic candidate in Maryland, and Andrew Gillum in Florida, the Democratic Party is in need of Black women to both vote and encourage others to vote. Their influence is needed in congressional races to keep Senate seats and win the House.
Democrats need to flip 23 GOP-controlled seats to seize control of the House.
“In 45 Congressional districts, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is spending what it described as a record midterm sum of $25 million specifically earmarked for nonwhite voters,” according to The New York Times.
Officials said that Black women are a major target of focus groups, advertising, and customized social media posts and text messages.