Record number of black women are candidates in Alabama

Terri Sewell
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell — Alabama's sole African American representative in the U.S. Congress

Alabama. It was once the epicenter of the civil rights movement, where black men and women made national headlines — with the Montgomery bus boycott, to protests led by Martin Luther King Jr, to the Selma-to-Montgomery march that only got as far as the Edmund Pettus Bridge —  in their fight for equal rights.

Now, black women in the state are making headlines once again — as a record number of them are candidates in 2018. More than three dozen African-American women are running for office, an unprecedented number that the party has never seen before, according to NBC News.

In a state with a history of racial division, these women are once again looking to a have a seat at the table, in a system where they have been underrepresented for far too long.

“Alabama is not a state that is known for electing women to office, so, in some sense, this is surprising, historic and much needed,” Richard Fording, a professor of public policy at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, told NBC News.

Fording is referring to the fact that while women make up 52 percent of Alabama’s population, they only hold 14 percent of seats in the state legislature.
The numbers are even worse for black women — currently only nine of the 105 members of the State House (or 9 percent) and two of the 35 members of the State Senate (or 6 percent), are black women. As of 2016, there are no women of color in statewide executive elective office.
2018 could be a year all of that changes.
With the December election of Sen. Doug Jones, the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama in a quarter of a century, and the birth of the #MeToo movement, black women in Alabama have felt more empowered to enter politics.

“It’s so important that we step up, that we show the nation that we can lead,” Jameria Moore told NBC News. “That, here in Alabama, we’re ready to lead our state into the future.”

Moore, 49, is an attorney running for judgeship on the Jefferson County Probate Court.

“I have friends in other states who say, ‘I don’t know how you live in Alabama,’ and I tell them, ‘Why wouldn’t I live in Alabama?'” she said. “This is an opportunity, that’s how I look at it.”