More women and more Black women than ever ran for Congress in 2020, but they still lost ground

7 mins read

Sharon Austin, University of Florida

In 2020, Black women set a new record – 117 entered primaries for the House and 13 for the U.S. Senate, in keeping with the Center for American Women and Politics.

In complete, 643 women were candidates in congressional primary and general elections, together with a file variety of Asian or Pacific Islander, Latina, Middle Eastern or North African and Native American women.

Still, women ended up dropping eight seats in Congress. In 2018, the nation elected 127 women – and 48 women of color – to the House and Senate. This 12 months, that dropped to 117 women and 45 women of shade.

Throughout my profession as a political science professor, I’ve studied women’s illustration in mayoral, congressional, gubernatorial and presidential elections.

Here’s my have a look at the feminine demographics of Congress following the 2020 elections.

Freshmen no more

Many of the women first elected to Congress in 2018 retained their seats.

All four members of “the Squad” were reelected. These women – Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib – are Democratic women of shade identified for their progressive insurance policies, together with the Green New Deal.

Also reelected have been Illinois Democrat Lauren Underwood, winner of a predominantly white and Republican district in 2018; Jahana Hayes, the primary Black girl to characterize Connecticut; and Georgia’s Lucy McBath, winner in a district that had been held by Republicans for almost four decades.

These reelections show that their victories in 2018’s “pink wave” weren’t a fluke and that they have actual endurance in Congress.

In a number of the 2020 congressional races, Black women ran against each other – an indication of their sturdy participation. For instance, Florida’s Val Demings, Florida’s Frederica Wilson and Georgia’s Nikema Williams – who will succeed the late civil rights icon John Lewis – gained their congressional races after defeating different Black females.

A woman gestures from behind a podium.
Activist Cori Bush will characterize Missouri in the 117th Congress. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File

Notable newcomers

Some women will probably be becoming a member of Congress for the primary time in January.

Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist, turned Missouri’s first Black feminine congresswoman and represents a district that features the cities of St. Louis and Ferguson, the positioning of the police killing of African American teenager Michael Brown in 2014. Ferguson additionally elected its first Black female mayor this year.

Bush defeated African American Congressman William Lacy Clay Jr.. Clay, Jr. and his father represented the district for over 50 years.

Other women of shade becoming a member of Congress for the primary time embrace Telemundo journalist Maria Elvira Salazar, a Republican who unseated Donna Shalala in Florida, and attorney Teresa Fernandez, a Democrat from New Mexico.

Some underdogs didn’t make it

So who lost?

Arkansas’s Joyce Elliott, a trainer and veteran state legislator, got here up brief in her bid to grow to be the primary African American congressional member from Arkansas.

Florida’s Pam Keith, a army veteran and lawyer, lost by a wide margin to her Republican opponent.

Patricia Timmons-Goodson, the primary African American member of the North Carolina Supreme Court whose federal judicial nomination by Barack Obama was blocked by Republicans, did not win a seat in Congress.

Also developing brief was Tennessee’s Marquita Bradshaw, a single mom and environmental activist who would have been Tennessee’s first Black feminine congressional member if she had gained.

California’s Tamika Hamilton, Georgia’s Vivian Childs, Maryland’s Kimberly Klacik and Ohio’s Lavern Gore are all Republicans who ran in mostly urban Democratic districts, but none gained on election night time. All Black feminine congresswomen – except Utah’s Mia Love, who served one time period in the House – have been Democrats, suggesting that the trail to victory is very steep for Black Republican women.

A white man’s authorities?

Three white men with their feet on an African American soldier lying on the ground
The caption of this 1868 cartoon learn, ‘This is a white man’s authorities. We regard the Reconstruction Acts (so referred to as) of Congress as usurpations, and unconstitutional, revolutionary, and void – Democratic Platform.’ World Cat

For most of its historical past, the members of each Houses of Congress have been white men.

The monotony started to interrupt in 1917 when Montana’s Jeannette Rankin turned the first female congresswoman. In 1964, Hawaii’s Patsy Mink turned the first Asian American congresswoman. The first Latina, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, was elected in 1989.

In 1968, the late Shirley Chisholm turned the primary Black girl to serve in Congress. Four years later, two more Black women arrived in Congress, Barbara Jordan of Texas and Yvonne Braithwaite-Burke of California.

Chisholm referred to as Black women “catalysts for change” in politics. U.S. Rep Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, as soon as tweeted, “I cannot be intimidated and I’m not going anywhere.”

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Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality suggests Black women are deprived due to the “intersection” of their racial, gender and class identities. One result’s that they encounter disadvantages when working for workplace.

Some of those women have been deprived by their race, gender or class when working in opposition to well-funded incumbents. Yet, my work in the sphere of women and politics additionally means that the lengthy custom of Black feminine political management in America is gaining momentum.

Sharon Austin, Professor of Political Science, University of Florida

This article is republished from The Conversation underneath a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.