Study: Black women hold few appointed/elected offices in the U.S.

Kamala Harris
Posted at 5:03 PM, Jan 27, 2022

DENVER — With the announcement that President Biden plans to follow through on his campaign promise to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court following Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement, local organizations said it’s a sign that the political landscape needs change.

“We're still in a state of First, we've never had a woman governor or senator from our state to Congress. We've never had a woman become mayor of Denver. So we are still writing the script, trailblazing, and creating those paths,” said Lisa Calderon, the executive director for Emerge Colorado.

Calderon said Emerge Colorado is working to make sure more women hold elected offices.

“I'm the first woman of color to head this phenomenal organization that recruits and trains and ultimately gets women elected to office,” Calderon said. “We have about 60 women in office elected or appointed. So you know, we're really making waves.”

Calderon said her work includes identifying and helping Black women who are interested in running for office.

A recent Center for American Women in Politics study shows less than 5% of elected state officials or federal office holders are Black women, despite the group representing nearly 8% of the population.

The study also found that just 8 of the nation’s top 100 most populated cities have Black female mayors.

A Black woman has never been elected governor of a state and currently there are no Black women serving in the U.S. Senate.

Emerge Colorado alum, Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod, said Biden’s Supreme Court nomination is coming at a crucial time.

“I look forward to President Biden making good on his promise to ensure that there is finally a Back woman on the Supreme Court. We have dozens of qualified Black women who can fill that position from multiple states across this country. And it's about time,” Herod said.

Herod said this nomination will encourage so many Black, Brown, and Indigenous girls who may be interested in political careers.

“When I think about something like the Supreme Court, as a little kid, I actually wanted to be on the Supreme Court. I used to run around with like a black shade around me and be like, I'm a justice, I'm going to be on the Supreme Court. But honestly, I don't think I ever really thought I could because I never saw a Black woman there. I never saw anyone like me,” Herod said.

Calderon said this nomination will have major implications for future generations.

“I think what is really interesting about what Justice Breyer did, is he stepped aside honorably, so he made space for a Black woman to ascend. I think that that's the ultimate lesson here, is that these types of appointments don't just happen. They are intentional,” Calderon said.

Calderon and Herod said the Supreme Court nomination is only beginning. To be the first is an achievement, but making sure you’re not the last is the goal.