How Black Women Changed the Election

African Americans played an integral role in the win of President-elect Joe Biden in November and have long been the deciding factor in many states for the Democrats. Black women are deserving of most of the credit, as Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris stated in her victory speech by recognizing the role they played in her election. 

The key for the Democrats has been the abundance of Black women who have organized themselves and grassroots organizations in helping people register to vote and generally encouraging voting as a way to have their communities’ voices heard. There are Black women organizers all over the country and the impact they have had has been immense in changing the administration.

Pennsylvania was a crucial win for the Biden campaign, which ultimately put them over the top for the total electoral college votes they needed due to the massive support Black voters displayed for Biden in large cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 

Brittany Smalls is an active organizer in Philadelphia who has been praised for her work in empowering voters and increasing educational resources around voting in her community. Activists such as Smalls are crucial in ensuring greater voter turnout due to an increase in the belief that Black voters matter, which was the edge Biden needed to win the election.

Voter suppression against Black voters has been a systemic form of violence that has impacted elections throughout U.S. history, from smaller municipal elections to larger presidential elections. A common form of suppression has been state-editing of voting rolls to make it harder for Black people to vote, let alone stay registered to vote — someone might not even realize they have lost their vote and need to reregister until it is too late. 

It is also not uncommon for Black voters to show up to vote at a poll on voting day and being incorrectly informed they are not on the voting roll even if they actually were. Much of the structural racism in southern states of the U.S. are lasting scars of the Jim Crow era which attacked the civil and democratic rights of Black people. In Georgia, voter suppression had been pushed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp who cancelled voter registrations for more than a million residents due to “inactivity” or error.

Experienced politician, lawyer and voting activist, Stacey Abrams, has proven to be the greatest weapon against voter suppression and has been working tirelessly with her foundation Fair Fight Action to increase access to voting for Black Americans. Abrams and her network of organizations have been credited with registering more than 800,000 voters in Georgia alone, which were the turning point for Biden’s win in the state. 

What was once a Republican stronghold since 1972 has become a political battleground where Democrats are narrowly leading and will have momentum going forward in the runoff election for both of Georgia’s Senate seats. This could ultimately determine which party could gain control of the Senate. 

The next few months and the upcoming elections for these Senate seats have the potential to change the entire political landscape in the U.S. for years to come.