African American women are standing up and running for office

We’ve seen it over and over again in the year since Donald Trump’s inauguration — there’s a palpable desire for a change in the lived experiences of those who represent us, and an invigorated effort to elect those who can represent that change authentically.

But even before Trump’s election, that desire was present. Recall the story of Desiline Victor’s enthusiasm to vote during the 2012 presidential election. Desiline, born in Haiti, didn’t think twice about waiting in line for six hours to cast a ballot. The then-102-year-old just wanted Barack Obama to be president.

The power of the ballot was obvious last year, with African American women in particular voting in force to help tip state-level electoral victories against Trumpian candidates in Virginia, New Jersey and, most recently, Alabama.

But as women seek to disrupt the status quo, we have to acknowledge that deep blue Delaware has got some work to do. Voting is critical, but it is not enough.

We need more diversity represented in our state elected offices and we need more women. In order for our policies to reflect our values and our vision for a more equal Delaware, women — and, in particular, women of color — need to design and usher in the policy changes we hope to see.

Mary Ann’s List has launched to do this very work. We will muster resources, build coalitions, train candidates and ultimately elect pro-choice Democratic women from across the state of Delaware to represent us in Dover.

We do not accept that African American Delawareans make up more than 22 percent of the state’s population, but African American women only hold two of the 62 seats in the Delaware General Assembly. And we know that the disparity exists nationally, with our very own Congresswoman, Lisa Blunt Rochester, standing among just 18 African American women serving in the 535-member Congress.

Mary Ann’s List is working to change this. We are proud to make state Senate candidate Tizzy Lockman, our first endorsement of 2018.

Not only does Tizzy bring the lived experiences of a woman of color to the table, but she represents the future of the First State. She’s a dedicated education advocate, a champion of civil rights issues, and a long-time community leader. She is running for Senate District 3 and, in Tizzy, we see the best of Delaware.

Mary Ann’s List is confident that Tizzy Lockman will help make 2018 another history-making year, building off of the wins of women like Vi Lyles, the first African American female mayor of Charlotte and our own history-making Congresswoman, Lisa Blunt-Rochester.

We are not waiting for an invitation to the table. As Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress and first black woman to seek the presidential nomination, famously said:

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

We hear you Shirley, and we are following suit. In 2018 and every cycle to come, Mary Ann’s List will be here to lift up Delaware women to take a seat.

Lynne Howard is a board member of Mary Ann’s List. This piece was written on behalf of the Board.