A Seat At The Table

It’s been 50 years since Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress as a member of the House of Representatives. Four years later, she sought the Democratic nomination for president. In her book Unbought and Unbossed, Chisholm describes what prompted her to run for Congress: “For my part, I was not interested in listening to any reasons why I shouldn’t run,” she writes. “By then I had spent about 10 years in ward politics and had done everything else but run for office. Starting as a cigar box decorator, I had compiled voter lists, carried petitions, rung doorbells, manned the telephone, stuffed envelopes and helped voters get to the polls. I had done it all to help other people get elected. The other people who got elected were men, of course, because that was the way it was in politics. This had to change someday, and I was resolved that it was going to start changing right then. I was the best-qualified nominee, and I was not going to be denied because of my sex.”

According to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers, a record number of women — at least 125 — will serve in the U.S. Congress in 2019 including a minimum of 40 women of color. A third of the new women elected are women of color, that’s quite significant says CAWP’s director Debbie Walsh.

“Voices that aren’t normally heard, really important voices, will be heard a bit more,” says Walsh. “For our democracy and for the making of good policy, we will have more diversity at the table when decisions are being made and that matters."

Read the entire story by Rhonda Stewart here

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