Sisters are doin’ it for themselves, y’all. To date, approximately 603 black women are currently running for political office in the United States; in Alabama, a record 70 of the state’s 2018 candidates are black women (only two of which are Republican). Glamour magazine is featuring 18 of these hopefuls in its June/July issue, due on newsstands Tuesday.
Spanning several generations and levels of political experience, Alabama’s black female momentum follows a trend started by the more than 90 percent of black women nationally who voted against Donald Trump in 2016, as well as the momentous 98 percent of black women who carried Sen. Doug Jones to victory over Roy Moore in Alabama last December.
Of course, it’s not news to us that black female voters can carry—or, at the very least, deeply influence—elections, but what is remarkable is that now we are beginning to exercise that power en masse, showing up not just at the polls but also on the ballots, and our presence is on the verge of turning some historically very red states blue.
As writer and activist Jamia Wilson noted in the feature: “The question is not whether these candidates have what it takes to lead the state into a more just future; it’s whether they will receive equal access to the resources, institutional support, and megaphones needed to win.”
Political scientist Wendy Smooth, who was interviewed for the article, agreed: “Yes, black women are coming in as amazing insurgent candidates. But pay attention to how many of them are formally endorsed, [which is a sign of] their parties’ support and belief that these candidates are viable.”
The 18 Alabama candidates covered by Glamour revealed any number of specific political platforms and reasons for running, but overall, there was a feeling that after the 2016 presidential election, the need for representation had become especially important. As Audri Scott Williams, who is running for the U.S. House (District 2), said: “Our country needs us. Now is a time when it’s so important for women, and women of color, to show up. We are the ones who can build partnerships and coalitions that will get America back on track.”
For Ashley Smith, who is running for district judge in Lowndes County, it is an issue of recognizing our own worth, not only at the ballot box but in the legislature. “We are just as qualified as men to run for these positions,” she told Glamour. “My hope for women in 2018 is that we will realize our political power. I hope women will run without fear, run zealously, and advocate for our constituents.”
Rhonda Briggins is an Alabama native and co-founder of VoteRunLead, which trains and supports women running for political office (including Minnesota state Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American legislator in the United States). Briggins feels the current groundswell of black female candidates is long overdue: “Black women are moving from winning elections for others to winning elections for themselves.”
The Glow Up tip: You can read the full feature at Glamour’s website and pick up the June/July issue of Glamour when it hits newsstands on Tuesday, May 29.