Monday’s surprise announcement by academic and activist Cornel West that he is running for president of the United States was the latest twist in what is shaping up to be a very unusual 2024 election cycle. Amid questions about President Joe Biden’s age and former President Donald Trump’s legal woes, a variety of candidates have entered the presidential race. One notable feature of this race is the wide variety of Black candidates who are running across a number of different parties. Here are five Black politicians who are running in the 2024 presidential race.
Sen. Tim Scott — Republican Party
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott officially launched his bid for the Republican nomination for president in May, ending months of speculation about whether or not he would be running. As the only Black Republican in the U.S. Senate, Scott is looking to broaden the appeal of the GOP, a party that many see as racially out of touch at best and outright racist at worst. Scott’s mixed record on issues like police reform may help him stand out from other Republicans but may also limit his ability to reach out to Black voters and other Democratic-leaning communities. Scott’s recent contentious appearance on The View shows that he has work to do to make his message more appealing beyond the Republican base.
Larry Elder — Republican Party
Though Scott is the most prominent Black Republican running for president so far, he was not the first to throw his hat in the ring. Conservative radio host Larry Elder announced his bid for president in April. At the time, Elder told Tucker Carlson during a Fox News interview that “I feel I have a moral, a religious, and a patriotic duty to give back to a country that’s been so good to my family and me.” Elder’s website lays out a policy platform that includes hardline stances on immigration, tough-on-crime rhetoric, and the blaming of “the Critical Race theory (CRT) and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) cults” for increasing “racial tensions in America.” These views align with past statements. For example, during his unsuccessful 2021 run for governor of California during that state’s recall election, Elder told interviewer Candace Owens that a case could be made that it was actually slave owners who were owed reparations after the Civil War rather than formerly enslaved people.
Kanye West — Independent
You’d be forgiven if you did not notice that Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, announced in November via social media that he was again running for president. The musician and fashion designer’s “Ye 24” announcement came as his career, public reputation and fortune imploded due to a series of bizarrely racist and antisemitic statements and actions. West’s new campaign is surprising given that his previous presidential run in 2020 created strange public appearances but very few votes. So far, Ye has not done much to back up his 2024 run, though surrounding himself with controversial figures like white nationalist Nick Fuentes has not helped him improve his image.
Dr. Cornel West — People’s Party
As Blavity previously reported, Dr. Cornel West announced on Monday that he is running for president as the candidate for the People’s Party. Though primarily known for his academic work at Harvard and Princeton and his activism, West is no stranger to presidential politics; in the past, he offered harsh criticism of then-President Barack Obama and supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bid to win the 2016 Democratic nomination. Now that he is a candidate himself, West is espousing a progressive platform that includes “fighting to end poverty, mass incarceration, ending wars and ecological collapse, guaranteeing housing, health care, education and living wages for all!” according to a recent tweet. Critics worry that West could be a “spoiler” candidate, not popular enough to win but popular enough to draw votes away from Biden.
Vice President Kamala Harris — Democratic Party
To be clear, Kamala Harris is not running for president. She has rejoined Biden as his 2024 running mate and looks to return to her role as vice president for four more years. However, loud voices in both parties have been critical of Biden, already the oldest president in U.S. history, running again. As various people speculate concerning Biden’s ability to serve another full term, Harris has come under increasing scrutiny based on the concern that she might have to assume the presidency if Biden is unable to complete his term. Harris, despite criticisms over issues like the handling of the U.S./Mexico border, has made her mark as vice president by casting a record-breaking number of tiebreaking votes in the Senate and by emerging as a leading voice defending voting rights and democracy. So even though Harris will not be at the top of the Democratic ticket, her record and her potential to serve as president will have a significant role in shaping this election.
There is still plenty of time between now and November 2024. Though each of the candidates listed above have a long way to go in order to make their case for the nation’s highest office, each has a shot at making history in one way or another. We will continue to watch each of these candidates, and look out for new entries into the presidential race, as the countdown to Election Day 2024 continues.