Paras Griffin/Getty Images
Britni Danielle
Jul, 09, 2018

It’s no secret, Black women are the backbone of our communities, and when it comes to civic engagement, sisters vote more than any other group. Now, a group of Black women mayors are imploring other women of color to step up and run for local office.

"Take your rightful seat,” New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell said. “Let's use our keys to unlock the doors that we know our people need to walk through.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms agreed. “We already have a power that is within us and we are just showing it on a different level,” said Lance Bottoms.

The former judge said her historic election as the city’s first African-American female mayor in 8 years demonstrated that Black women are ready to govern.

“African-American women are already leading, now we are owning it and showing it to the nation and changing the agenda of our cities,” she said from the ESSENCE Festival empowerment stage.

Cantrell and Lance Bottoms were joined by their “sister mayors,” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and Gary Indiana Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson who all spoke about the need to encourage and support more Black women to get into politics.

“Black women are tired of their votes being taken for granted, and they want to ensure they are electing Black women in positions to move the mark, truly build communities that are equitable, that are speaking to the needs of our women,” said Mayor Cantrell.

In addition to increasing economic opportunities for women of color in New Orleans, Mayor Cantrell is also focused on helping people re-enter their communities after incarceration.

“When a woman is incarcerated the whole family is incarcerated,” she said. “If we want to move that mark and build our communities, then it takes a woman to do that.”

Each of the mayors are focused on meeting the challenges of their respective cities, like building more affordable housing, improving education, and increasing access to health care and mental health services.

While each of the mayors’ elections were history-making, they don’t want to be the only ones breaking through the glass ceiling.

“We live in different communities and different cities, but we’ve been working together. And we’re working to get more Black women elected and we have a sisterhood that we have formed to make sure that all of us are successful,” said Mayor Lyles.

With an election just months away, and things like health care, reproductive rights, and Affirmative Action hanging in the balance, Mayor Freeman-Wilson said people need to start mobilizing now.

“This midterm election is so critical we need to be mobilizing, encouraging people to get ready right now,” she said. “Even though November seems like a long way away, everybody else is getting it together.”