HEY SIS (and the Brothers who love us)!
You know the saying “showed up and showed out?” That is EXACTLY what Black women did in this year’s election. Sisters went to the polls in Ohio and put our imprimatur on the election-defining issue of abortion. History was made in Philadelphia. A whole lot of us got swept to victory in local contests and are coming soon to a city hall or state legislature near you. There’s plenty to run down for you, so let’s get into it:
First, the historic.
Democrat Cherelle Parker was elected as Philadelphia’s first woman mayor. She defeated Republican city council member David Oh to succeed fellow Democrat Jim Kenney, who was term-limited.
Parker, 51, is a native Philadelphian who became a high school English teacher after graduating from historically Black Lincoln University. She earned a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and in 2005 became the youngest Black woman ever elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She served for 10 years before being elected to the City Council in 2015.
Parker ran on a platform of addressing Philadelphia’s challenges with crime, education, jobs and poverty. She vowed to “put to great use everything inside of me … to make Philadelphia the safest, cleanest, greenest big city in the nation, with economic opportunity for all.” Parker gave a passionate victory speech reflecting on her personal history and the congratulatory call she got from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. If you missed what she had to say, don’t worry, we got you! Watch it below:
In Texas, Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is headed to a Dec. 9 runoff against state Sen. John Whitmire for mayor of Houston. They were the top two vote-getters among 18 candidates vying to succeed outgoing Mayor Sylvester Turner. The day after the election, Turner endorsed Jackson Lee.
Voters in Charlotte sent Vi Lyles back to City Hall for a fourth term as mayor of North Carolina’s largest city, while Victoria Watlington, LaWana Slack Mayfield and Tiawana Deling Brown won seats on the City Council. Running unopposed, Barbara Foushee was elected mayor of Carrboro, NC.
In Ohio, Black women leaders played a big role in the passage of Issue 1, a ballot measure that enshrined the right to abortion in the state’s constitution. Passed with 55 percent of the vote, Issue 1 was seen as a harbinger for Democratic success in 2024, and a major victory for Black women. “For Black Ohioans, it will mean another safeguard for bodily autonomy and access to the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare,” Alexis McGill Johnson, CEO of Planned Parenthood, told theGrio. This is the beginning of more abortion rights advocacy by Black women; for details, check out Johnson’s interview with The Grio’s April Ryan.
Fueled by strong turnout in northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads, Democrats in Virginia took control of both chambers in the state’s General Assembly and dealt a major blow to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s political ambitions, which included plans to push through an abortion ban.
According to unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections, Democrats picked up a 21-19 majority in the Senate and a 55-45 majority in the House of Delegates, although several races remained too close to call the next day. Black women candidates were in the center of the action, even claiming coveted roles in Democratic leadership.
“We are making history in the Commonwealth,” said a jubilant Democratic state Sen. Louise Lucas, who was elected to a ninth term. She will be the first Black president pro tem of the Senate and chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee.
“You all kept me there long enough so that I got both seats!” Lucas told supporters. “And I love it!”
Georgia On Our Minds
Georgia, having already solidified its reputation as a bellwether state, witnessed a wave of Black women candidates winning or breaking new ground in various local races. At least five were elected mayor, 10 won city council seats and two were chosen for the Atlanta school board.
Jonesboro’s first Black mayor, Donya Sartor, defeated two challengers to win re-election. Stonecrest Mayor Jazzmin Cobble fended off a crowded field to remain in office. Also elected were Palmetto Mayor Teresa Thomas Smith; College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom; and Douglasville Mayor Rochelle Robinson.
In Savannah, former Alderwoman Carol Bell was returned to the City Council, claiming the at-large seat held by Kesha Gibson-Carter, who ran for mayor but lost to incumbent Van Johnson. First-time Jonesboro City Council candidate Asjah Miller, a public school teacher, finished third to claim one of three seats up for grabs. Duluth Planning Commissioner Shenee Holloway won an open city council seat. Also winning city council posts were Valerie Anderson of Austell; Ruby Foster of Chattahoochee Hills; Valyncia Smith of Conyers; Ora Douglass of Peachtree Corners; Anita Bass of Stone Mountain, and Catherine Foster Rowell and Helen Zenobia Willis of South Fulton.
In Atlanta, Jessica Johnson and Erika Mitchell emerged from a crowded 10-candidate contest to claim two of five available seats on the city’s Board of Education.
BWU Editor at Large Nicki Mayo chats with Aprill Turner, Higher Heights VP of Communications. (BWU via YouTube)
In the runup to Election Day, we talked with our sister Aprill O. Turner, vice president of communications for Higher Heights of America PAC. She gave us a spot-on heads up about the potential outcomes — some of which came true — and spoke about the challenges Black women face when pursuing elected office. Take a few minutes to watch, especially if you’re a sister who felt the sting of defeat this time around and could use some encouragement.
Hold That Thought …
We’re still analyzing election results in search of sisters who’ve done big things in this off-year election. We’ll be sure to bring what we find straight to you. In the meantime, thank you for supporting our journey as we take the sisters off mute, one story at a time!