Updated: Nov 14
Last Saturday, when a buoyed Joe Biden took the stage in Wilmington, DE to address a cheering crowd of supporters following the announcement that he was President-Elect Biden, a sea of smiling faces greeted him. While the crowds made up a racially diverse picture of the American melting pot, make no mistake about this fact: Black women got it done at the polls for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Ninety-three percent of Black women voted for the Biden-Harris ticket in 2020, roughly the same percentage that supported the Clinton-Kaine ticket in 2016. By contrast, 80 percent of black men supported the ticket, slightly lower than the 82 percent that supported the Clinton-Kaine ticket in 2016. Additionally, only 45 percent of white women and 39 percent of white men voted for Biden, according to the Associated Press.
Black women did that.
An Unstoppable Force
As the nation grappled with the threat of COVID-19 and the startling growth in the number of victims, states urged voters to make a plan to vote early and vote by mail in the months before the election to avoid the possible spread of the disease.
But the truth is Black women have been working for years to affect full voter participation among minorities, especially Black Americans. In fact, from 2000 to 2017, there was a 10-percentage point increase in the number of women of color participating in the outcomes of federal, state and local elections, according to the Center for American Progress.
Our participation in the democratic process is a game-changer in election outcomes.
When Georgia’s Stacey Abrams lost her 2018 race for governor to Georgia's Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, who previously purged voter rolls, closed polling locations and took other steps to restrict voting in the state, rather than get angry she went to work. In two years, through grassroots work and door-to-door canvassing, Abrams got more than 800,000 Georgians to register to vote.
Last Saturday, they were still counting mail-in votes in Georgia. Those votes heavily favored Biden-Harris in the state and across the nation. When Trump told his supporters that he didn’t trust mail in voting, they believed him and showed up at the polls on election day to cast their votes in person. Meanwhile, millions of votes had been sent by mail in the weeks ahead of the election.
Today, the election in Georgia was called for Biden, giving him the state's 16 electoral votes and bringing his total to 306, the same as Trump's in 2016, which he repeatedly has called a landslide.
Stacey Abrams proved to be an unstoppable force and deserves high praise for her role in turning Georgia blue. And while a hand re-count is currently underway in the state, that outcome is not likely to change. As a Black woman, Stacey Abrams was sick and tired of black voters being disenfranchised and did something about it.
Moral Clarity Meets Conviction
Black women from all walks of life – young and old, college educated and not, took part in this election because we saw what happened every day over the past four years of the presidency of Donald Trump.
We’ve seen an increase in police shootings of black men and women, the alarming growth in racist hate groups, and the reversal of policies that prevent discrimination in mortgage lending all since Trump took office. We’ve listened to his ugly insults leveled at black journalists and lawmakers and listened as he spewed lies by the thousands via Twitter and at his rallies.
Black women were driven to engage in this election by moral clarity and the absolute conviction that no American president should make divisiveness and hatred the norm. The truth is, we saw Trump for what he was in 2016, but so many Americans didn’t. As a result, we’ve endured four brutal years of his chaos, ineptitude and vitriol. We were simply fed up and determined to do all we could to get out the vote.
Black Votes Matter
So much was riding on the outcome of the election, including the continued fight for racial justice, battling the pandemic with science-based approaches to mitigation, and restoring civility in our political discourse. Armed with the knowledge that this was literally a ‘do or die’ election, Black women organized, rallied and voted to make the change that we so desperately needed in the leadership of our country to save lives.
Even as we still struggle to get America to accept that Black Lives Matter, America is now clear about one thing: Black votes matter.
Just ask Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. And, just ask Donald John Trump.˜