Glynda C. Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen are co-founders of Higher Heights for America, a national organization aimed at bringing black women into politics and elected office. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.
(CNN)In her speech after winning the Democratic primary Tuesday night, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams expressed a bone-deep understanding of the political moment that so many black women have already grasped — first in private conversations between one another and now, increasingly, with the Democratic power structure that has struggled to see black women as the capable, ready leaders they are.
“… We were born for a time such as this,” Abrams said, quoting a verse from the Book of Esther. “And now is a time to defend our values and protect the vulnerable — to stand in the gap and lead the way.”
Black women have been leading in this country for centuries as abolitionists, voting rights advocates, college founders, civil rights defenders, labor leaders, entrepreneurs and more. Yet far too often, when they express political aspirations and turn to established institutions for support, they are met with resistance and told their brand of politics doesn’t have mass appeal.
But Abrams’ victory this week makes clear what can happen when black women candidates are afforded support based on their track records, qualifications and policies instead of their skin color.
Fifty years after Shirley Chisholm’s historic run — and win — as the first black woman elected to Congress, Abrams, who received 76% of the Democratic primary vote, is now positioned potentially to become the first black woman to serve as a US governor.
Her distinctive achievement speaks volumes about changing voter demographics and the path to leadership that is emerging in this country. Even in red states, voters are becoming browner and less conservative. Abrams’ victory — as stunning as it…