Black Women Are The Forces Behind Some Of 2020’s Most Significant Political Races
Black women are hidden figures in the high stakes political world.
December 17, 2020 at 6:42 pm
In case you haven’t noticed, 2020 has been quite the year. In my opinion, 2020 has been one of those years that children years from now will read about in their history books. They will write reports about it and answer multiple choice questions on tests about the events that have transpired this year. Seriously, a lot has happened.
However, 2020 will likely be remembered for two major events — the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the presidential election. One could argue that COVID-19 was the single most important issue impacting the presidential election for several voters, and when it was time to select a new Commander-in-Chief, more Americans voted in this election than any other presidential election. In fact, in Georgia, where I reside, a record number of voters turned out, subsequently turning the once bright red state, blue — over and over and over again. The outcome shocked people all over the country as Georgia has not selected a democratic presidential candidate since 1992. After the third recount, I am pretty sure the question on some people's minds is, how in the world did this happen?
Well, I have an answer. Two words: Black women.
Aside from the fact that 92% of Black women voted for President-Elect Joe Biden (we stay showing up and showing out), we have a powerful movement occurring in Georgia and she goes by the name of Stacey Abrams. Ms. Abrams founded the New Georgia Project in 2014, which in coordination with other organizations, has registered over 425,000 new voters in Georgia. Since her historic run for governor in 2018, there have been 750,000 democratic voters added to the rolls (and that number is still increasing). 49% of those voters are people of color and 45% are people under the age of 30. After all the votes were counted, President-Elect Joe Biden won over 2.4 million votes in Georgia — and we're not done.
If you don’t know the significance of the two Senate seats that are up for grabs in the "peach" state, let me bring you up to speed. Democratic candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock is facing off against Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler while Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is in a close, nail biting race against Republican Senator David Perdue. These races have Georgia on everyone's mind. Political ads are repeatedly playing on multiple television channels, my cell phone is constantly inundated with text messages urging me to get out and vote, and volunteers are busy canvassing neighborhoods. There is a good chance that Georgia will continue to ride the blue wave come January 5, 2021. The machines behind some of these campaigns are well oiled and unbeknownst to many, some of the most brilliant minds leading the charge belong to Black women.
Recently, I had the privilege of sitting down with one of those women, Ms. Dasheika Ruffin, an attorney, political strategist and the founder of DMR Strategies, LLC. During the presidential primary Ms. Ruffin served as the Senior Advisor/National Director of Community Engagement for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign.
After Ms. Warren dropped out of the race, Ms. Ruffin was tapped to lead Reverend Raphael Warnock’s bid for the United States Senate seat in Georgia. While working on the campaign, her day typically began at 7 a.m. and sometimes didn’t end until 2 a.m. Ms. Ruffin was the mastermind behind some of the campaign’s key moments — moments that took a first time candidate from fourth place to being the frontrunner in the nation’s biggest runoff election for the United States Senate. She secured some major endorsements, e.g., the WNBA. That’s right, the WNBA — which is partially owned by Warnock’s opponent, Kelly Loeffler, and whose players are majority Black women. Many of those players threw their support behind Warnock following Loeffler’s derogatory comments regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.
This is the first time an entire league has publicly pledged their support to a candidate. And that was just the beginning. Ms. Ruffin managed to get over 33 sitting members of the United States Senate, including Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, and two former U.S. presidents, Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, to endorse Reverend Warnock. She also went out into the community and leveraged her relationships with local leaders and labor unions to build momentum for the campaign. This was no easy feat during a national pandemic, yet Ms. Ruffin successfully created a statewide coalition of voters who propelled Warnock in the polls, getting him one step closer to winning the Senate seat.
“The momentum you are seeing in Georgia didn’t happen overnight. It is the result of years of blood, sweat, and tears from activists and organizers, and at the helm of that hard work, you will find Black women.”
— Dasheika Ruffin
Ms. Ruffin let me know that she isn't the only one--there are other black women who dedicate their time and exhaust their energy trying to save this country. These women are real life Olivia Popes, minus the personal drama, of course. Ms. Ruffin and I chatted briefly about a few of her colleagues and their pivotal roles in the 2020 elections. We have Ms. Symone Sanders who served as President-Elect Joe Biden’s Senior Advisor and Ms. Erin Wilson who served as the National Political Director for President-Elect Biden. It was recently announced that Ms. Sanders will serve as the chief spokeswoman for Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris. Then, there's Ms. Missayr Boker, who served as the National Political Director for Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris. Last but certainly not least, we have Ms. Nse Ufot, who currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the New Georgia Project. And the list goes on.
After talking to Ms. Ruffin, one thing became apparent to me — Black women are hidden figures in the high stakes political world, contributing greatly to major campaigns, while receiving very little recognition for their efforts. I mean, their candidates are literally "winning with Black women" and it is past time we give these women their flowers. So, on behalf of Black women everywhere, I want to say, thank you, ladies. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed and you are truly appreciated. Now, please, by all means, take a bow.