Black women will play a key role in electing the next president, according to a recent report by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
The AFL-CIO is a national trade group and the largest federation of unions in the United States.
Carmen Berkley, the director of civil, human and women’s rights policy at the AFL-CIO said that the labor group wanted to provide context to the power that Black women voters have displayed over the past two presidential election cycles. In the briefing paper, researchers provided a case for why labor unions and non-profit organizations should be paying attention to Black women.
“Without Black women, President Obama would not have won the White House in 2012,” said Berkley. “Black women voters delivered in key battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida where President Obama picked up 67 additional electoral votes.”
Berkley continued: “If Black women had not turned out, President Obama would have been five electoral votes shy of winning the presidency.”
Denise Rolark Barnes, the publisher of The Washington Informer and chairwoman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) said that Black women
voters could make a monumental difference in the outcome of the 2016 election, just like they did in 2012.
But Rolark Barnes also expressed concerns that neither of the presidential candidates have touched on the issues that are important to Black women and single parents, who are also the primary breadwinners in their families; issues like health care, education and the environment are very important to Black women and their families.
Recently, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at a campaign rally in Durham, N.C., flanked by “Mothers of the Movement,” a group of Black women who have lost children to gun violence or during interactions with law enforcement. The group included Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis and Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland.
Clinton also delivered remarks at the Black Women’s Agenda conference in September, where she acknowledged that even though the contributions of Black women are “often missing from the history books — make no mistake — you are the change makers, the path breakers, and the ground shakers. And, you are proof that yes, indeed, Black girl magic is real.”
Berkley said that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said that he knows the Black community, but he hasn’t proven that he understands the impact that Black people, especially Black women, have on society.
“Black women drive turnout for the Black community,” said Berkley. “We care a lot about police reform, raising the minimum wage, protecting social security and we are economically liberal when it come to the government.”
Berkley also noted that Black women have been very reliable voters in the past two election cycles. In 2012 and 2014 Black women voted at higher rates than other women.
According to the briefing paper on the importance of Black women voters in 2016, “In 2012, 83 percent of registered Black women turned out, compared to 73 percent for all other women, a ten-point difference. Black women turned out at a higher rate than other women in 2014 as well. Fifty-five percent of registered Black women turned out in 2014, compared to 53 percent for all other women.”
Berkley said that Black women do more than vote.
“We’re very active in our churches, we’re very active in our communities and we’re very active in our unions,” she said. According to a survey by Lake Research Partners (LRP), a leading public opinion and political strategy research firm, Black workers are far more likely to view labor unions favorably (77 percent for Blacks vs. 50 for all-respondents) compared to other workers.
The briefing paper said: “As labor scholars Kate Bronfenbrenner and Dorian Warren found in their oft-cited study “Race, Gender, and the Rebirth of Trade Unionism,” unions won 89 percent of elections where Black women were the lead organizers.
The briefing paper said that as the labor movement grows, it should look to Black communities and Black women organizers as a potential base for power. •
“This requires incorporating Black communities into long-term strategic thinking and lifting up the most progressive voice of the Democratic base,” the briefing paper said. “For organized labor and other parts of the political left, Black women are a smart investment, in 2016 and beyond.”
Rolark Barnes said that Black women hold the power of the vote and also have the influence in their households to make sure their families and friends get out to vote.
Rolark Barnes continued: “We need to come out strong, like we did before, and make the difference we know we can make in November.”