Higher Heights Leadership Fund and the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, released Black Women in American Politics 2023.
For nearly a decade, Higher Heights and the Center for American Women and Politics have teamed up to report on the status of Black women in American politics. In that period, Black women have seen representational gains across all levels of office, including in the federal executive, and achieved milestones as candidates and officeholders within states and nationwide. But the underrepresentation of Black women persists, and our organizations remain committed to documenting, analyzing, and addressing disparities in both political presence and power.
The 2022 election illuminated these realities. Record numbers of Black women ran for congressional and statewide elective executive offices and, as a result of the election, a record number of Black women now serve in Congress, in statewide elective executive office, and in state legislatures. Still, despite a record number of Black women running for and winning major-party nominations for the U.S. Senate and governor in 2022, last year’s election did not remedy the lack of Black women’s representation at either level. More work needs to be done to both understand and address the hurdles that these women confronted en route to top statewide offices. This will be immediately important as we look ahead to 2024, when Black women will compete for especially opportune open Senate seats, and to 2026, when the bulk of gubernatorial offices will be contested.
This report provides a foundation for this work, offering an overview of Black women’s political representation today and over the past decade, as well as indicators of how Black women fared in the most recent election.