African Americans represent nearly 13% of the entire population of the United States. However, only around 1% of all congressmen in history have belonged to the Black community, a disparity that is completely attributable to the centuries of slavery, segregation, and systemic racism that has kept Black people down since they first arrived in Jamestown in 1619.
However, there is cause for optimism, with the number of Black people in leadership position skyrocketing in the fifty-seven years since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 made Black representation possible. Here are some of the most prominent Black politicians that have recently earned their place in the spotlight, and might play an important role in shaping the future of this nation:-
1) Cori Bush – Missouri
Cori Anika Bush (born 1976) is one of the most notable rising stars of the Democratic Black Caucus of the past few years. A longtime nurse and pastor, Bush started her career with anti-racism and progressive activism, inspired by her own experiences with law enforcement in Black communities. She is a prominent member of the Black Lives Matter movement and ran a historical campaign in the aftermath of the 2020 protest movement. Surprising analysts, Bush managed to defeat the 10-term Democratic incumbent Lacy Clay in the House primary elections in Missouri, eventually getting elected as the first African American congresswoman from Missouri.
2) Raphael Warnock – Georgia
A 53-year-old pastor who has served the Baptist community at Dr. Martin Luther King’s church since 2005, Warnock has recently made history by securing the first Senate victory of any Black American candidate in a former confederate state in 2020. Previously, Warnock was known for his healthcare activism and is well-respected as a moderate Senator in the purple swing state of Georgia. In fact, Warnock has become so popular in his state that the opposing Republican Party chose to run a Black candidate as well – a former NFL star named Herschel Walker. The midterm election between Warnock and Walker returned close results and the stalemate will be resolved through a run-off Tuesday. Warnock is expected to cement his newly-won position in a albeit close vote.
3) Wes Moore – Maryland
At only 44 years old, Wes Moore was elected on November 8 to become the first Black governor of Maryland in a historic win for progressive Democrats. Before his sudden debut in politics this year, Moore was widely acclaimed as the founder and CEO of Robin Hood, a charitable foundation that has helped lift up people from poor and racial minority communities across the New York State. Moore is also known to the public through his PBS show: “Coming Back with Wes Moore.”
Moore defeated his Republican counterpart Dan Cox in a landslide, representing a fresh new direction for Maryland that will likely impact the policy preferences of neighboring states and the Democratic Party as a whole. His running mate, Aruna Miller, will be sworn in as the first Asian American Lieutenant General of any U.S. state in history.
4) Tim Scott – South Carolina
The only Black Republican in the Senate, Tim Scott has served as the junior United States Senator from South Carolina since 2013. While not newly elected, Scott has only recently made headlines and is seen as one of the few prominent African Americans in the Republican Party in the era of Trumpism. Scott has spoken out about his own experiences with racial prejudice and discrimination while serving in office. Last year, he became the target of a series of racial slurs on Twitter, under the handle of ‘Uncle Tim’, before the moderators intervened.
5) Hakeem Jeffries – New York
A relatively anonymous House representative from New York’s 8th Congressional District – which includes Brooklyn – Hakeem Jeffries was anonymously elected as the leader of House Democrats earlier this week, after the long-term California representative Nancy Pelosi stepped down from the post in November. Jeffries has a background in legal career, and has served as, among others, a House representative since 2013, the chairman of House Democratic Caucus since 2018, and the Impeachment Manager during Donald Trump’s first impeachment in 2019-2020.