What Tishaura Jones’s Mayoral Win Says About the Political Power Of Black Women

Tishaura Jones finished Tuesday with a win to become the first black female mayor of St. Louis.

What Tishaura Jones' mayor's win says about the political power of black womenElected Mayor Tishaura Jones. (Twitter)

This story originally appeared on the 19th.

Tishaura Jones was elected St. Louis’ first black woman mayor on Tuesday. This was the most recent consequence of an increase in black women running for and elected positions in major US cities.

Jones, the city’s treasurer, made her second run after losing the 2017 Democratic primary by less than 900 votes. During a speech Tuesday night following her triumph over Alderman Cara Spencer, Jones stated her intention to address major inequalities as part of her vision for St. Louis.

“I will not be silent when I see racism,” said Jones. “I will not be silent when I see homophobia or transphobia. I will not be silent when I see xenophobia. I will not be silent when I see religious intolerance. I will not be silent when I see injustices. “

Jones’ election is part of an unmistakable trend in American cities: in 2017, Keisha Lance Bottoms became the second black mayor of Atlanta and Vi Alexander Lyles became the first black woman mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2018, LaToya Cantrell became the first female mayor of New Orleans and London Breed became the first female black mayor to be elected in the city of San Francisco. In 2019, Lori Lightfoot became the first black female mayor of Chicago.

This year black women are also running for mayors in Boston and New York. As of March 2021, 32 women will be mayors in the 100 largest cities. Seven are black women.

“We’re seeing a reshaping of what management looks like,” said Kimberly Peeler-Allen, a visiting practitioner at the Center for American Women and Politics who studied black women’s political power and is also a co-founder of Higher Heights. who tries to choose black women. “Because we’ve seen black women run and win in legislatures, but we haven’t seen them as the ones who say, ‘The money stops here. ‘We didn’t see that in concentrated numbers before 2017. And I think this is really changing how black women see themselves and how voters see black women’s leadership and the need for black women’s leadership. “

It’s not just in the mayor’s offices. Brenda Choresi Carter is the director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign, which tracks the increasing diversity of people in elected offices and published its latest report in February. These data show that from 2016 to 2020 women of skin color, including black women, had a sharp increase in political representation in elected city positions.

“The phenomenon of black women winning mayor’s seats doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” she said. “Indeed, there is a real surge of black and colored women in elected city-level offices across the country.”

Carter said the reasons vary depending on each city’s political climate. She noted that the majority of black women who win office are Democrats, indicating the Republican Party’s upcoming work to recruit more color candidates.

Peeler-Allen said voters are looking for candidates with lived experience who can help eradicate inequalities worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

“People really see the value of different voices at decision-making tables and the way women, and especially black women, just lead differently,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to make sure everyone is in the conversation.”

“People really see the value of different voices at decision-making tables and the way women, and especially black women, just lead differently.”

In Boston, Kim Janey became acting mayor last month after Marty Walsh stepped down to become labor secretary in the Biden administration. She and Andrea Campbell, who are currently on the city council, are both running as the first black woman to be elected mayor of that city.

Janey announced her offer for a full term on Tuesday, and a new campaign video puts her in the spotlight among a number of black women who have risen to top political positions, including Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Women, black women, stepped up to do the job and we’re winning,” Janey said on the video.

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Campbell announced their return in September. (Other women of color, including Michelle Wu, have also announced their candidacy.) Campbell told The 19th that America is at a pivotal moment in the midst of a national race reckoning following last year’s demonstrations against police brutality.

“We feel it locally here in Boston. And I’ve said from the start that Boston has a unique opportunity, and I’m not sure we’ll get it again anytime soon, to address our own painful history of race and racism, and to address the inequalities associated with it, because of ours There’s history in our city, ”said Campbell, the first black woman to serve as city council president in Boston. “But in order for us to do that, we need a leadership that is not only courageous and courageous and understands these inequalities, but also has lived experience and a track record that addresses these inequalities.”

Maya Wiley is among the black women in a crowded race for New York City Mayor that will hold its primary in June. She’s one of the leading fundraisers in the race, along with former nonprofit manager Dianne Morales who is Afro-Latina. Wiley said black women have always been “managers” for their communities.

“We have always been caretakers of our communities and have always looked for solutions for our community members,” she said. “And that requires an executive office. … I think that’s why so many of us are running for leadership positions now because we want to manage the changes we need to make. “

Wiley, a civil rights activist who previously served as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s chief attorney, said she had noticed “credibility issues” from potential voters despite her résumé in the city government.

“Do you know, do you really know how to deal with it? Are You Really Qualified? ‘You have to work twice as hard,’ said Wiley. “… There is a record by which I can judge myself in relation to management, but instead there is always the question of whether I am qualified, which I don’t necessarily think is the same question when [I] was a man. “

Carter said while there is an increase in black women running for office, there are still barriers that add to their underrepresentation in elected political office.

“I think in political circles and for power brokers – the world of political gatekeepers who decide who runs and who gets the resources for their campaigns – there is still a lot of old, inaccurate conventional wisdom about what is successful or viable in the candidate looks like, and this candidate doesn’t usually look like a black woman, ”Carter said. “… The good news is that the more women, people of color, and in this case black women, that are elected and the more they run and win, the more this becomes a discredited notion.”

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