On May 24, 2017 Black women activists, civic and community leaders, and elected officials penned an open letter to Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez calling for a meeting to discuss the state of Black women and the Party.
Since the election of Donald Trump, Democrats are working hard to figure out next steps and the future of the party. There is much disagreement on what that looks like. Whether it’s doing more to get back white working class votes, galvanize the core base of the party, some combination of the two or none of the above, the path forward remains contentious and unclear.
One thing that is clear, however, is that black women have long been consistent and loyal to the Democratic Party without getting much in return. And in an open letter written to DNC Chair Tom Perez on Wednesday (May 24), they are calling for a meeting to discuss the future of black women in the party.
We have voted and organized our communities with little support or investment from the Democratic Party for voter mobilization efforts. We have shown how Black women lead, yet the Party’s leadership from Washington to the state parties have few or no Black women in leadership. More and more, Black women are running for office and winning elections — with scant support from Democratic Party infrastructure. […]
The Democratic Party has a real problem. The data reveals that Black women voters are the very foundation to a winning coalition, yet most Black voters feel like the Democrats take them for granted. The Party’s foundation has a growing crack and if it is not addressed quickly, the Party will fall even further behind and ultimately fail in its quest to strengthen its political prospects.
There seems to be an operating assumption that black women will be the foot soldiers in the Democratic Party. And we often are. Since 2008, black women have been the most active voting demographic in the country. Despite, the incredible voter suppression we face in many parts of the country. And yet, we persist.
In 2008 and 2012, 70 percent of eligible Black women cast ballots, accounting for the highest voter turnout of any racial or gender group, proving that our voting power can and has determined elections. A closer look at the data shows that in 2012 Barack Obama won re-election by 4.9 million votes.
Black women cast a total of 11.4 million ballots, providing the margin he needed to win. This past November, even with a clear lack of voter mobilization investment and a decrease in overall Black voter turnout, 94 percent of Black women voted to keep this country moving forward by casting ballots for Hillary Clinton. In addition, on November 8th we saw important elected-office gains by Black women despite the otherwise dismal defeat of progressives during the general election.
If this is really a chance to rebuild, the party simply cannot do it without black women. Since the DNC elections in February, the organization has not increased its representation of black women in leadership nor has it met with black women among its various constituency groups despite doing a unity tour.
This has to be a moment for the party to multitask. Democrats have obsessively wondered how they missed the signs of a potential Trump victory among certain whites leading up until the election. Well here’s a very clear message—a key constituency in the party is being ignored. One that the party cannot do without.
Organizing without the engagement of Black women will prove to be a losing strategy, and there is much too much at stake for the Democratic Party to ignore Black women. […]
In this termed “movement building moment,” how will you lead the Democrats forward? Will Black women be among those at the helm, helping to design the strategies, craft the message, mobilize troops, and lead the way – as policymakers, political strategists, activists, and elected officials?
The letter ends with a specific request of Tom Perez to meet with black women leaders and activists to hear their thoughts on how the DNC can invest in black women’s engagement and leadership from hiring of key staff to training opportunities. It is signed by the following 27 women representing different organizations and institutions as well as state legislatures and Congress. It will be interesting to see what the party chooses to do with this movement building moment, indeed.
Avis A. Jones-DeWeever, Ph.D. – Founder, Exceptional Leadership Institute for Women
Christina M. Greer, PhD
Dana Vickers Shelley
Glynda Carr – Co-Founder, Higher Heights for America
Kimberly Peeler-Allen – Co-Founder, Higher Heights for America
Khalilah Brown-Dean, PhD
L. Joy Williams
Marcela E. Howell
Melanie L. Campbell
Nakisha M. Lewis – Co-Founder #SheWoke Committee
Roslyn M. Brock – Chairman Emeritus, NAACP
Sydney Kamlager-Dove – Vice President, Los Angeles Community College District
Delegate Lashreces Aird – Virginia
Delegate Marcia Price – Virginia
Delegate Pam Queen – Maryland
State Senator Holly Mitchell- California
State Representative Kathy Sykes – Mississippi
State Representative Laura Hall – Alabama
State Representative Rena Moran – Minnesota
Honorable Marcia Fudge – (D-OH)
Honorable Joyce Beatty – (D-OH)
Honorable Bonnie Watson Coleman – (D-NJ)
Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson – (D-TX)
Honorable Barbara Lee – (D-CA)
Honorable Stacey Plaskett – (D-NY)
Honorable Yvette Clarke – (D-CA)