Some are labeling the 2018 election cycle the “Year of the Woman” thanks to historic runs such as gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams in Georgia. On a smaller stage, but equally as powerful, the U.S. House of Representatives has 18 Black Democratic women on the ballot who seek to push America forward.
This midterm election is one to watch with all 435 seats in the U.S. House up for grabs. Meet the 18 Black women running as Democrats vying for a congressional seat.
Running unopposed, Ayanna Pressley is a member of the Boston City Council becoming the first woman of color elected to the council in its 100-year history. On Nov. 6, Pressley stands to become the first African-American to represent the state of Massachusetts in the U.S. House.
The 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Jahana Hayes is a few weeks away from being the first African-American Democrat-elected official to represent New England. Hayes, a history teacher with no political experience, is making a historic run against her opponent, Republican Manny Santos.
Lauren Underwood, a registered nurse and Illinois native, has served as a senior adviser at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama, helping communities across the country prepare for and respond to natural disasters, bioterrorism, and other public health emergencies. As a career public servant at HHS, she helped implement the Affordable Care Act, particularly broadening access for those on Medicare, improving healthcare quality and reforming private insurance.
Aja Brown serves as mayor of Compton, California. In 2013, she won her bid for office, defeating both incumbent Mayor Eric J. Perrodin and former Mayor Omar Bradley. In 2018, she announced a run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the state’s 44th congressional district. In 2013, Brown made history at the age of 31 when she was elected the youngest mayor in the city of Compton.
The Rev. Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding is a seasoned professor and minister but a newcomer to politics. She serves as a professor of women’s and ethnic studies and as the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church of Colorado Springs, Colorado. She will face off against incumbent Republican Doug Lamborn for the 5th congressional district.
A special needs teacher by trade, Yvonne Hayes Hinson has taught children with neurological and behavioral challenges in New York, Miami and Atlanta. After retiring from Miami-Dade Public Schools, she became an entrepreneur and launched her own company, Childstart Learning Solutions, LLC. Childstart contracted with states and local school districts to provide consultation and supplementary services to low-performing schools. Hinson is in a competitive race with incumbent Republican Ted Yoho.
Valdez Venita “Val” Demings is a law enforcement officer and politician who serves as the member of the United States House of Representatives from Florida’s 10th congressional district. She served as chief of the Orlando Police Department, the first woman to hold the position. The incumbent has no Republican opponent.
Lucia McBath is a gun control advocate from Georgia. Her son Jordan Davis was shot and killed in November 2012 in a controversial act of gun violence, believed to be a hate crime. Davis was murdered in the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, sparking McBath to get involved in gun policy.
Tabitha Johnson-Green, a registered nurse for 20 years and a business owner, is a political newcomer and has a vision for the 10th congressional district. “In order for our community, our state, our world to move forward, we need an influx of fresh, new and creative ideas,” she said. “We need to shake up the status quo. No more politics as usual. I am not a career politician. I am a concerned citizen who wants to help shape and define the laws that govern our everyday lives and circumstances. My lifestyle is representative of the people of this district and this state. I know the struggles of the everyday citizen.”
Jennine Lee Lake is the editor and publisher of The Good News (formerly The Muncie Times) living in the 6th congressional district of Indiana for over 30 years. She is on the boards of The Muncie Matters Alliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters and is the chairwoman of Feed My Sheep.
Brenda Jones is president of the Detroit City Council and running for Michigan’s 13th congressional district with no Republican challenger. Her public service career began in 2005 when she was first elected to the City Council. She has been re-elected to the council three additional times, always as an at-large member. Jones was elected president of the body by her peers in 2014, and again in January 2018.
Ilhan Omar is a Somali-American politician from Minnesota. In 2016, she was elected a Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, making her the first Somali-American legislator elected to office in the U.S. If elected to the 5th Congressional seat, she and former Michigan state representative Rashida Tlaib will become the first Muslim women elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
With an endorsement from President Obama, Linda Coleman, a former school teacher, is ready to defeat Republican incumbent George Holding for the seat in North Carolina’s 2nd congressional district. Her elected offices include Wake County commissioner and three terms in the North Carolina General Assembly. After her tenure in the General Assembly, Coleman was appointed to serve the state’s workforce as the director of the Office of State Personnel. In Congress, Coleman says she will fight to lower health insurance premiums and for vocational and skills training, and make sure tax cuts go to regular people, not the wealthy.
Denise Darcel Adams has served as a council member for the North Ward of Winston-Salem since 2009 and is currently serving as vice chair of the Finance Committee and the Community Development/Housing/General Government Committee. Her desire to impact the quality of life for all people is the fire that drives her. She has served on the board of many local and state organizations including NC League of Municipalities, Arts Council, First Tee of the Triad and Forsyth County Community Garden Extension.
Dr. Vanessa Enoch is a public policy and business consultant. For over 20 years, Enoch has been leading efforts to drive change in local communities. Most recently, she has worked alongside state legislators and state court judges to ensure fairness within the criminal justice system and the jury selection process. She is concerned that Ohio’s prisons are filled with individuals who are poor, mentally ill and disproportionately from minority communities.
A former sports agent/marketer, Erika Stotts Pearson is running to represent the 8th congressional district of Tennessee. Hailing from a family of politicians, Pearson has pledged to make public education her top priority as your representative in Congress. She made the same commitment as an educator in the classrooms and as the wife of the founder of Memphis Academy of Health Science.
“As a teacher, I will fight for a quality public education for our students. I will defend Social Security, advocate for Medicare for All, and fight to repair our broken criminal justice system. The opportunity to succeed is what the people deserve, and what I will fight for as the Representative of Texas 14.”
Lavangelene “Vangie” Williams says she is a strategic planner, mother and professional problem solver. A self-made woman who has overcome insurmountable odds, Williams is a public servant who solves problems for our federal government. A real-world professional with 30 years of experience, she is not a career politician who will put corporate interests above people. William currently works full time for a major government contractor as a strategic planner/senior project control principal.
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Sarafina Wright is a political correspondent for EBONY.com. Previously she served as the editor of the WI Bridge and staff writer at the Washington Informer in Washington, DC, covering business, education, health and politics. She attended Howard University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing professionally she can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com. Sarafina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.