A New 'Pathway' to Electing Black Women

"Black women have the highest voter turnout of all demographics, and yet, in a country comprised of 37% of people of color, White people hold 90% of elected political power. Of that figure, The Women Donor Network found that 65% of that power is attributed to White men with 25% represented by White women. This sea of whiteness in elected office needs shifting, and Jessica Byrd, who has long history in working to get progressive women - of color specifically - elected, is aiming to push for that with The Pathway Project." - Michael Arceneaux 

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Not Running – Yet: Getting Women to See Themselves as Potential Candidates

"Byrd works for EMILY's List, a Washington-based Democratic organization founded in 1985 to build a fundraising network for female candidates who support abortion rights (the name is an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast"). In 2001, the group launched a candidate-training program, with daylong instruction sessions and binders full of tips for navigating the male-dominated world of politics. Then the organization began working to maximize contributions and voter turnout. Today, Byrd is here to try to do something new: to train and encourage women who say they don't want to run." - Lucia Graves

Image by Koren Shadmi

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Jessica Byrd Wants You To Run For Office

"Still Byrd believes that by focusing on targeted candidate recruitment, she can help get more women of color (namely progressive, pro-choice candidates) elected than ever before. "Most women run for office to fix something or because they're mad as hell," says Byrd. "So we're trying to empower women who are leaders in their own communities, individuals who may have been overlooked.""   -Donna M. Owens

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Black Female Candidates Face Different Challenges—Some of Them From Black Voters

"When recruiting candidates, Byrd said, “The truth is, there is no blueprint.” She said you have to think about “the must-haves and the nice-to-haves. You can’t teach honesty, you can’t teach integrity. There are historical, cultural and social barriers why black women aren’t running for office, and all of those are real,” she said. “It takes women seven times to be asked to run for office. We like to think of every single woman as a new conversation.” She said she has talked to the store manager of a supermarket, a UPS driver and others as she has traveled around the country. “I do think it’s going to be a long game.”"- Mary C. Curtis

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