Maybe it was Democrat Doug Jones’ surprising victory over Republican Roy Moore in the United States Senate runoff election. Maybe it was the success of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements at lifting up women’s voices around the world. Maybe it was a combination of both.
But a wave of political change is coming to the United States — and it’s being led by black women.
In the state of Alabama, where one in four people are black, an unprecedented number of black women — more than 35 — are running for some form of elected office in 2018, NBC reports.
Nationwide, less than 5% of jobs in Congress, statewide executive offices, and state legislatures are held by black women, despite black women making up more than 7% of the US population. Only one black woman — Rep. Terri Sewell — has ever been elected to federal office in the state of Alabama.
But if the new numbers coming out of that state is any indication, this could soon change.
“This place that was so resistant to change, where, now, a group of women who were looked down upon and dealt first-hand with the vestiges of slavery and segregation are the ones who can lead us forward — it's monumental,” Quentin James, who works for a PAC that aims to increase the number of black people elected to office in Alabama, told NBC.
On the frontlines of state and local Alabama political races, black women are showing the importance of equal representation, regardless of race, background, or gender.
These women include everyone from Audri Scott Williams, 62, a first-time candidate running for Congress in Montgomery to Rep. Terri Sewell, who is running for reelection in Congress for the fifth time, according to the NBC report.
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Both inside and outside of Alabama, black women — who vote at higher rates than any other demographic — still face significant challenges in running for office.
Of the nation’s 100 largest cities, just three black women serve as mayor, and no state has ever had a black woman serve as governor, according to Emily’s List, an organization that helps women run for elected office.
"It's so important that we step up, that we show the nation that we can lead," Jameria Moore, who is running for a judgeship at Jefferson County Probate Court, told NBC. "This is an opportunity, that's how I look at it."