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Black women are running for office in record numbers in Alabama

A record number of black women are running for office as Democrats in Alabama.In the aftermath of Alabama's ro...

Posted: Jun 5, 2018 1:44 PM
Updated: Jun 5, 2018 1:44 PM

A record number of black women are running for office as Democrats in Alabama.

In the aftermath of Alabama's roller coaster Senate special election in December 2017, a national spotlight was shone on the black women who turned out in large numbers to vote for Democrat Doug Jones.

Making up 17% of the electorate, 98% of black women cast a ballot for Jones, who many thought would never represent the very red state.

Six months later, more than 70 black women are running for electoral office in Alabama, says Stacie Propst, executive director of Emerge Alabama, a Democratic candidate training program.

That number doesn't capture the candidates running for county and municipal offices, says Propst, who just ran a boot camp for female candidates in Mobile this past weekend.

Propst, an Alabama native, points to Donald Trump's surprise win in 2016 as a galvanizing force and says she's never seen this many African American women running for office in the state.

All but two of the black women running are Democrats, and organizers say a strong showing in such a red state sends a message to the rest of the country.

"The tide is shifting, and these southern states are showing the rest of the country, again as they always have, that we can lead, and we can change the world," says Rhonda Briggins, co-founder of VoteRunLead and Alabama native. "If you look at history, especially Alabama history, civil rights history, women have always led those charges, and have been the ones working very diligently, behind the scenes, organizing."

VoteRunLead is a nonpartisan effort to train women to run for office and Briggins says Alabama's rejection of Republican Roy Moore -- after multiple accusations of unwanted sexual advances toward young women -- motivated African American women to get more involved in politics.

"Now that storm is brewing, I think it's only going to grow," Briggins says of the national attention on black women as a voting bloc. "They've turned these cliches into a reality, of 'Black Girl Magic.' I think people really believe that. I think people really believe they can make a difference, and all you have to do is put yourself out there and do it."

Briggins says judicial positions represent a unique opportunity for black women to impact their local communities.

"If we're going to do something about Black Lives Matter then it starts with our local judicial system, it starts with our local policing powers," Briggins says. "People are now connecting the dots to their lives and connecting that to the political power and influence and then pulling all of these pieces together to create real change."

Around 18 black women are running for circuit, district and probate judge positions in Jefferson County, where voters chose Jones 68% to 31% over Moore.

Three of those women running graduated in Emerge Alabama's inaugural training class, and they've "become like a family."

"We call each other, we text each other," says Jameria Moore, who is running for probate judge. "We talk all the time just encouraging each other. So this has been just a wonderful sisterhood."

Clotele Hardy Brantley, who is running for the district court, met Moore on the campaign trail, but has known Marshell Jackson Hatcher, running for the circuit court, for around 15 years.

Moore says she met Hatcher when she first passed the bar, around 12 years ago.

The three are also Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters and say that sharing the campaign experience has knit them closer together.

Moore and Hatcher turned to Brantley, who has for office before, for advice.

"This was our first time and we didn't know what to do and when you go to this event, how are you supposed to present yourself, or what to expect. And so we were relying on what you were telling us," Hatcher says.

They shared tips about elevator pitches, and the best places to get face time with voters.

"Most people congregate on Sundays, at churches. You get a mass amount of people at churches. It's a little bit easier than going knocking door-to-door, especially in the Alabama heat," Moore told CNN.

They have supported each other through the ups and downs of running for office and feel optimistic no matter the outcome.

"I am claiming victory. And I have from the day that I decided to run this time," Brantley said of Tuesday's primary. "This is my time, I've claimed it."

However, the motivation to run doesn't just belong to African American women who are Democrats in Alabama.

Cherokee County has only one African American woman running for office in either party: 18-year-old Jayla McElrath, running as a Republican.

McElrath graduated from Cedar Bluffs High School just a week ago and is running for County Board of Education.

She says her mom always told her "to think outside the box" and after being elected to student government, and serving on the local city council committee, she was determined to improve learning conditions for other students.

She was too young to vote in the Senate special election but said she was following the race intently and probably would have voted for Jones.

McElrath says she was inspired by President Barack Obama to see a black man as president even if she disagreed with his positions, but also takes inspiration from President Donald Trump.

"You can come from a different background anywhere and create change," McElrath says. "He thinks outside of the box too."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 481397

Reported Deaths: 9395
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32996486
Hinds30973586
DeSoto30491353
Jackson23650348
Rankin21267368
Lee14867220
Madison14145271
Jones13365226
Forrest13125238
Lauderdale11538305
Lowndes10418176
Lamar10184130
Pearl River9055219
Lafayette8218137
Hancock7501112
Washington7033150
Oktibbeha6937124
Monroe6491161
Neshoba6463201
Warren6439163
Pontotoc626593
Panola6219126
Bolivar6105144
Marshall6102121
Union573086
Pike5590136
Alcorn536090
Lincoln5297131
George470072
Scott456096
Leflore4468140
Prentiss445277
Tippah443680
Itawamba4430100
Adams4403116
Tate4351101
Simpson4324112
Wayne431566
Copiah431087
Yazoo423086
Covington414792
Sunflower4137104
Marion4087104
Leake397186
Coahoma394298
Newton368775
Grenada3553104
Stone350659
Tishomingo334689
Attala324886
Jasper313762
Winston303591
Clay295273
Chickasaw286665
Clarke280290
Calhoun265140
Holmes261887
Smith249549
Yalobusha220547
Tallahatchie218850
Walthall210558
Greene207845
Lawrence206033
Perry199353
Amite198152
Webster195942
Noxubee178239
Montgomery172054
Jefferson Davis167642
Carroll161937
Tunica152734
Benton142035
Kemper138440
Claiborne126634
Choctaw126326
Humphreys126337
Franklin116628
Quitman103626
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson88833
Sharkey62820
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 781915

Reported Deaths: 13798
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1109621748
Mobile706071213
Madison49359617
Baldwin36054485
Shelby35933311
Tuscaloosa33540540
Montgomery32996673
Lee22337218
Calhoun20935400
Morgan19666329
Etowah18890454
Marshall17575274
Houston16598377
St. Clair15287298
Limestone14442184
Cullman14441252
Elmore14299259
Lauderdale13395278
Talladega12781234
DeKalb12102233
Walker10495328
Autauga9611135
Blount9595154
Jackson9293152
Coffee8764174
Dale8485171
Colbert8448180
Tallapoosa6557177
Escambia6541117
Covington6409165
Chilton6314142
Russell600655
Franklin5744101
Chambers5350133
Marion4748116
Dallas4672185
Clarke459177
Pike458895
Geneva4333116
Winston420292
Lawrence4099108
Bibb405680
Barbour342969
Marengo324783
Monroe316652
Butler316088
Randolph302855
Pickens300673
Henry299657
Hale290483
Cherokee286752
Fayette276473
Washington245048
Crenshaw236768
Clay226264
Cleburne225750
Macon218057
Lamar192541
Conecuh180146
Lowndes170758
Coosa167533
Wilcox159636
Bullock148642
Perry136336
Sumter124136
Greene120542
Choctaw73326
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Fall has started off exactly as you would have anticipated and it looks like we should have a number of dry days still ahead, but this isn’t a permanent switch, because heat is pegged to return.
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