Vermont's First Black Female Legislator Opens Up About The Racist Threats That Forced Her To Step Down
“I cannot be the legislator that I want to be. I cannot speak my truth in the way that needs to have been said,” Kiah Morris said.
In 2014, Kiah Morris made history as Vermont's first Black female legislator and made history again when she was elected to serve a third term when she won the Democratic primary in 2018.
Unfortunately, Morris will no longer serve her community in the halls of government because of racism. In August, the representative announced she would be stepping down after her current term following countless racial attacks.
“There’s obviously online harassment that can happen, and that’s a part of our social media world right now, but then when things started happening in everyday life, that’s when it becomes really worrisome and terrifying,” Morris told The Associated Press in a recent interview about her decision.
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The "everyday life" she's referring to included a house break-in, targeted threats and even harassment aimed at her family that continued after she announced she wasn't running for re-election. It was clearly way too much to bear.
“This is deep racism coming out, and there are Vermonters hunting down other Vermonters here. This is awful for our state,” said Vermont House Speaker Mitzi Johnson. “Rather than shake our heads and say, ‘Oh, what a shame,’ we all need to buckle down and figure out what steps we can take, what steps each of us can take, however large or small, to erode some of the system that allow racism to continue.”
Morris said the saddest part of her political career was coming face to face with the lack of protections built into the system. She said she found even "liberal" spaces such as Vermont had no checks and balances to protect her as a Black woman.
“I cannot be the legislator that I want to be. I cannot speak my truth in the way that needs to have been said,” she said. “I cannot do those things and be secure and be assured of the safety for myself and my family. And that is really unfortunate.”
You can check out her full discussion with th AP below:
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