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These 8 Black Women Run Some of America’s Greatest Cities


This breakthrough moment may be transient. In Atlanta, a city where nearly half of the population is black, Ms. Bottoms announced earlier this year that she would not run for a second term. Two black candidates — Kasim Reed, a man and the city’s former mayor, and Felicia Moore, a woman and current city council president — are leading the race to replace her in the Nov. 2 election, according to a recent Atlanta Journal -Constitution poll.

In Boston, Mrs. Janey, who was named acting mayor earlier this year, finished fourth in the primary this fall and failed to secure a run-off spot; the frontrunner to replace her, Michelle Wu, is an Asian-American woman and a current city council member. But even without Ms. Janey, the number of black female mayors will not decline. India Walton, a Democrat, is currently running for mayor of Buffalo; if elected, she would be the first woman — and the first black woman — to run New York’s second-largest city.

Political pundits attribute the rise of black women mayors and black women to other elected positions to a number of factors, including a changing electorate, grassroots activism and increased support from so-called gatekeepers, including political parties, major unions and other organizations that may help boost a candidate through fundraising and endorsements.

This trend has accelerated over the past five years, said Debbie Walsh, CAWP’s director: “There has been more activism in recruiting and supporting women of color to run for office, especially on the Democratic side. More and more of these gatekeepers are engaging. and search for candidates for black women.”

A political scientist also points to young black women’s early exposure to civic engagement through sororities and other clubs, describing their political rise as “black girl magic.”

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