Higher Heights, the national organization dedicated to electing Black women and harnessing their voting and political power, is marking International Women’s Day and its theme #ChooseToChallenge by highlighting Black women in politics.

In a full-page ad in The New York Times, the group is celebrating nearly 100 current and former Black women political leaders. They run the gamut from Vice President Kamala Harris to the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Higher Heights is also challenging what they called “the shameless absence of Black women” in certain offices at the federal level and beyond.

“Zero Black women in the Senate. Zero Black women on the Supreme Court. Zero Black women Governors. Zero Black women… Presidents,” the ad reads. “52 years after Shirley Chisholm’s historic election as the first Black woman in Congress, Black women remain the backbone of our democracy and are more than qualified to lead it. On this International Women’s Day, #ReachHigher with Higher Heights for America to support Black women leaders. We need them now more than ever.”

Photo courtesy of Higher Heights

Vice President Kamala Harris has made history as the first woman, Black and Southeast Asian elected Vice President. And there are currently more than two dozen Black women in the U.S. House of Representatives. Yet there’s never been a Black woman on the Supreme Court, or a Black woman governor, for example. 

That doesn’t sync with the way Black women—who make up about 12.9 percent of the nation’s 330 million people—have consistently proven their influence as a voting bloc. For instance, exit data showed about 91 percent of Black women voted for the Biden-Harris Democratic ticket in the November 2020 election.

In a June 2020 Pew Research Center survey, 4 out of 10 Black adults said that working to elect more Black officials would be an effective tactic to help achieve racial equality.

“Black women have shown how powerful our activism and organizing can be in politics, yet we are still grossly underrepresented in leadership at the local, state, and federal levels,” said Glynda Carr, President and CEO of Higher Heights.

For the past decade, the organization which Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen co-founded, has been pivotal in providing strategy and support to Black women seeking to hold elected office. 

In 2020, Black women widely sought offices nationwide. More than 60 ran for Congress, and there were a record 117 Black women candidates in primary contests for major-party House nominations.

Higher Heights has backed candidates across the country, from mayoral races to the White House. 

During Black History Month, Carr and EMILY’s List President, Stephanie Schriock, held a media call to discuss the importance of electing more Black women.

Schriock issued a statement for International Women’s Day cheering the “strides that women have made in the U.S. and all over the world to make their voices heard,” but noted “there is still a lot of work ahead.” “Emily’s List is proud to be fighting to create a system that will empower women and be equitable and accessible for all,” she said.

Carr agreed. 

“While we celebrate the gains that Black women have made in politics in the last decade, we must also challenge the lack of representation that still exists, and take steps to fix it,” she said. “There is no doubt that Black women are uniquely qualified to lead our communities and country. It’s up to all of us to address this major gap in representation, and ensure that our country’s leadership is fully reflective of the people it serves.”

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