13 Oct 2016

By Carmen Berkley

The AFL-CIO recently released new data revealing Black women voters are a key demographic to electing the president in November. The data reveals that Black women turn out to vote in higher numbers than any other group of women. In fact, over 90 percent of Black women voted for President Obama in 2008, flocking to the polls at a higher rate than any other group of Americans. Without the strong support of Black women all across the country, not just exclusively in the southern states, President Obama would not be in the Oval Office today. As we set our eyes towards the November election, it is important to remember the role that Black women play in elections, in pushing the agenda and policies of the progressive movement forward, and within the American labor movement.

Black women cannot afford to sit this election out. We need to be involved in every race, from the local level all the way up to the national level. We as Black women need to let our communities know what’s at stake if we let hate and fear win this November.”

With other people of color, Black women form the foundation of the progressive coalition in the United States. And when politicians have a Black woman on their side, evidence shows they can also count on the support of their families and friends – especially if the women belong to a union or an organization. Issues like police reform, the minimum wage, social security and protecting the rights of working people rank high on the list of priorities Black women look for in a candidate. Any candidate running for office, on both the local and national level, who wants the support of Black women must present a clear agenda and concrete plans advancing policies that will improve the lives of not only Black women but their entire communities as well.

I know that Black women are born organizers, I have seen it first-hand. Black women know what our families and communities need to thrive and we vote for candidates who can deliver.

The new AFL-CIO data indicates that Black women participate in leadership in America’s unions at a greater percentage than their actual unionization rates. The benefit of this leadership is spread across Black communities, making these women a force and the foundation for political change.

Black women can and do affect the outcome of elections. If we want a country and a government that pursues family-friendly policies like paid sick leave and affordable healthcare over a government that supports building a wall to prevent immigrants from entering the country, we need to listen to Black women.

Carmen Berkley is the Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Director of the AFL-CIO.

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