Georgia Democrats Make History by Electing Black Leadership in Both State Legislative Chambers

Georgia State Capitol
Georgia State Capitol
Photo: Rob Wilson (Shutterstock)

Man, Black folks have really kept their foot on history’s neck, and I love to see it. In the latest bit of history making, both of the Democratic caucuses in Georgia’s state legislative chambers will have Black leadership for the first time.

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According to AJC, state Rep. James Beverly (D-Macon) and state Sen. Gloria Butler (D), will lead the state House and Senate, respectively. The 52-year-old Beverly will replace state Rep. Bob Trammell after he lost his bid for reelection earlier this month. The 78-year-old Butler was unopposed in her bid for state Senate leadership and is replacing outgoing Senate Democratic Leader Steve Henson.

The first woman and Black person to lead the Democratic caucus in the state Senate was none other than all-around boss Stacey Abrams back in 2011. Seriously, that woman just needs to constantly wear a shirt that says “I Do This Shit,” because, I mean, does she not?

In 1996, Charles Walker became the first Black person to lead to the state House when the Democrats were in the majority. Clearly, there isn’t a long storied history of Black leaders in Georgia politics, making this an even more impressive accomplishment.

“Women and Black women were always in the background doing the real work,” Butler told AJC. “So the time is now — we have become more bold and out front and have decided to take our places in the top leadership positions.”

Ayy, talk that money shit.

Longtime Georgia legislators told AJC that changing demographics have led to this moment. State Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus), who’s served in the state house for 45 years, has said that the makeup of the Democratic caucus has shifted from mostly white men to mostly Black men and women, with the women being in the majority.

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“More women and more African Americans have entered the political equation over the last 20 years or so,” he told AJC. “It was just a matter of time until this would occur.”

Georgia Republicans, unsurprising, are composed entirely of white men. While Black Republicans have been a part of the state legislature, because we’re not a monolith, the current makeup is about as white as a CW show.

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Mm hm, I ain’t forget what they did to UPN.

Over the last year, Georgia has experienced upheaval due both to the nationwide reckoning on race spurred by the police killing of George Floyd, as well as the shootings of Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks earlier this year by racists and racist police, respectively. Beverly believes that having Black leadership in both chambers will help them better respond to these issues.

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“Lived experiences give you an opportunity to approach problem solving in a different way,” Beverly told AJC.

“In this moment and this time I think it bodes well for Georgia.”

DISCUSSION

By
Darius Raqqah

From 1963

To 2023?

And by 2043.

History has some nice rhymes sometimes. This here is what progress looks like.