Bush, Jones, Gardner part of ‘wave’ of success by Black women candidates in Missouri

ST. LOUIS — City Treasurer Tishaura Jones calls it “a wave of Black girl magic” in Missouri.

The victories in Tuesday’s Democratic primary by Jones, U.S. House candidate Cori Bush and Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner are part of a recent national trend of success at the polls for African American women — a demographic historically underrepresented in elective offices across America.

“Voters are looking for a new generation of leadership,” said Glynda C. Carr, president and CEO of Higher Heights for America, an organization that promotes Black women for elective positions across the country and tracks their progress.

“They bring their qualifications but also their unique lived experiences.”

In 2018, five Black women were elected to Congress for the first time, four of them in white-majority districts, according to a Higher Heights survey.

The Associated Press reported that Congress now has more Black women than ever — 22 House members and one senator, Kamala Harris of California.

Higher Heights says Black women now make up 4.3% of all state legislators, up from 2.3% in 1999. They also are mayors of seven of the 100 most populous American cities, an increase from one in 2014.

Meanwhile, six African Americans are among the women being considered by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for his vice presidential running mate.

But Black women still lag in various political categories, according to Higher Heights’ website. While they make up about 7.5% of the electorate, they hold less than 2% of statewide elected executive offices and none in Missouri.

Bush startled the Missouri political establishment with her upset defeat of longtime U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay in the 1st District U.S. House primary.

Jones and Gardner, meanwhile, easily turned back serious challenges mounted by their respective opponents, Jeffrey Boyd and Mary Pat Carl.

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