Black women only make up about seven percent of the nation’s population but at the polls, Black women turn out to vote in larger numbers than almost every other demographic. Some experts said Black women will be a major force on Election Day this year.
During early voting in Shelby County, lines wrapped around some polling places. Memphis attorney Princess Woodard said the sight reminded her of her grandmothers. “They voted, they showed up, they wanted their voices heard,” said Woodard. Woodard too has voted in every election since she turned 18. “Them always prompting it, talking about it, most definitely put me in a space to know that it was just something that I have to do. It’s not something that you do passively. It’s a commitment to do it, an obligation to do it, for your individual self, for your community and for the betterment of people,” said Woodard.
“When you fire [black women] up, we don’t go to the polls alone, we bring our house, our block, our church, our sorority and our union,” said Glynda C. Carr, President and CEO of nonprofit, Higher Heights. Carr is one of the many behind #BlackWomenVote, a nonpartisan voter-activism campaign. She said this movement goes beyond the hashtag… she says the campaign offers black women the tools and information they need to engage their communities regardless of the political party.
According to a recent report from the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute, Black women turned out in record numbers back in 2008. It shows 75 percent of Black women voted in 2008, 74 percent in 2012 and 66 percent in 2016. “This isn’t to say that they had not exercised their power before but I think that is precisely when it became so transparent and then when you did have the lead up to the 2016 election, where just the mass numbers,” said Dr. Trimiko Melancon, an English and Africana studies professor at Rhodes College.
“2020 does mark this year and this shift in that the nation is saying Black women we recognize you and I think part of it is because historically they have played a role as a voting bloc but now this is such a consequential right that they really have to tap into that political energy of Black women,” said Melancon.