Black Women In The Running For Vice President: A Rundown of The Top Contenders

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Black women in America, despite the challenges that come with being both Black and women have alway been at the forefront creating culture and fighting for social justice. Black women have contributed to the Feminist movement from its inception in the nineteenth century. At the same time they fought for abolition then for Civil Rights for all Americans.

The votes of Black women has also been pivotal in many elections. Still, Black women have traditionally been shunted to the side when it came to questions of who should hold positions of high visibility, influence, and power in politics. It looks like with the pivotal election of 2020, they have finally come into their own. Black women have been the major contenders in the contest for the VP spot in addition to people like Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (HI) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA). Below are the four who are still standing just days before the Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is said to announce his decision.

Who do you think would be best given the state of the country and the world right now and what America’s goals will be for the next four years given the ways that domestic and foreign policy has been upended by Trump, and the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic? Which of the following contenders have the hard skills, soft skills, energy and courage it will take to meet those challenges head on from day one?

Val Demings

Congresswoman Val Demings
Congresswoman Val Demings

Demings grew up in Jacksonville Florida from a staunch working class family. Through discipline, smarts, and incredible work ethic she worked her way up and now serves in the US House of Representatives. Though Demings’ voting behavior points to her as a staunch liberal, like Joe Biden she isn’t likely to ever lean toward the more progressive end of the political spectrum or challenge the establishment.

Education

Florida State University, BS in Criminology

Webster University Orlando, Masters in Public Administration

Career, Noteworthy Accomplishments, Issues, Events

  • Chief of Orlando Police Dept 2007-2011. Served in Orlando Police Department a total of twenty-seven years.
  • Defended her officers when charges of abuse and excessive force were leveled at them. Oversaw an overall reduction of crime by 40% on her watch.
  • Currently in second term in the House of Representatives representing Florida’s 10th Congressional District.
  • Pro Choice
  • Pro Gun Control
  • Pro Affordable Care Act
  • One of the seven impeachment managers during impeachment trial of Donald Trump. 
  • Member of the following House Committees-
  • Homeland Security, Judiciary, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Notable Memberships

Delta Theta Sigma

The Links

National Congress of Black Women

Val Demings’ Voting Record

 

Fun Fact: Val Demings is a “Biker Chick” riding her Harley Davidson Road King Classic motorcycle in her downtime.

Karen Bass

Congresswoman Karen Bass
Congresswoman Karen Bass

Born and raised in the Venice area of California into a lower middle class family, Bass showed a commitment to public service from early on in her life. She has also demonstrated a belief in grassroots organizing to achieve social justice. Hedging numerous initiatives at every step of her career,Bass seems to be a natural leader who is extremely skilled in getting opposite sides to come to the table and come away with a resolution. Her dedication to making life better for the average person may not sit well with those who are looking to maintain the status quo or to govern in a way that mainly benefits corporate interests.

Education

San Diego State University Bachelors in Philosophy 

University of Southern California Masters in Social Work 

USC Keck School of Medicine Graduate of Physician’s Assistant Program 

California State University, Dominguez Hills BS Health Science at 

 

Career, Noteworthy Accomplishments, Issues, Events

  • California Assembly 2004-2010
  • Founded Community Coalition to address social and economic issues in South Los Angeles area
  • Founded and chaired the California Assembly Select Committee on Foster Care
  • commissioned the first ever “State of Black California” report
  • fought to repeal the California Citizens Redistricting Commission
  • secured more than $2.3 million to help revitalize the historic Vision Theater in Los Angeles
  • Raised over $600 million for the Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Presented with Profile in Courage Award from Caroline Kennedy for leadership in budget negotiations, passing a budget with Republicans in the state legislature while under extreme pressures not to raise taxes.
  • Elected to represent California’s 37rd Congressional District in 2010
  • Instrumental in the passing of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which promoted the apparel industries of both Africa and the United States, creating potentially creating thousands of jobs for African families, in particular African women.
  • Head of Congressional Black Caucus since 2019.
  • Led the House in creating the George Floyd Justice in Policing in the wake of the George Floyd killing.

Fun Fact: Was a volunteer in the Robert F. Kennedy Presidential Campaign

Karen Bass’ voting record- 

 

Susan Rice

Former National Security Adviser, Susan Rice
Former National Security Adviser, Susan Rice

Most of the contenders come from a background as legislators. Coming more from a policy and diplomacy background, Rice has never run for election or served in public office. She does, however, come from an incredibly well-connected family and made numerous connections both nationally and domestically when she served under Clinton and Obama.

.Her father taught Economics at Cornell and was the first African American governor of the Federal Reserve System.  Her mother Lois Rice, is known as “mother of the Pell Grant” for her efforts toward its creation and was one of the first Black women to sit on a major corporate board. The first woman Secretary of State Madelne Albright was a family friend for many years, and one of Rice’s mentors. Rice has deep knowledge of African affairs and issues and the role of the various African countries in foreign affairs, which goes all the way back to her college years.

Unlike the other candidates with legislative backgrounds, she already has a relationship with Biden so he doesn’t have to go through the process of figuring out what kind of chemistry they have as he has to do with the other potential VPs.; process likely complicated with regard to other candidates due to the coronavirus pandemic

 

Education

National Catholic Day School, one of America’s top prep girls only schools, where she was valedictorian

Stanford University

Truman Scholarship, BA with Honors in History, Phi Beta Kappa

Rice created a fund at Stanford that withheld alumni donations until the university either stopped their investments in companies doing business in South Africa, or the country ended apartheid.

Oxford University, Rhodes Scholar. Rice earned a Dphil (PhD) in International Relations

Her PhD dissertation entitled Commonwealth Initiative in Zimbabwe, 1979–1980: Implications for International Peacekeeping won the Royal Commonwealth Society’s Walter Frewen Lord Prize for outstanding research in the field of Commonwealth History, as well as the Chatham House-British International Studies Association Prize for the most distinguished doctoral dissertation in the United Kingdom in the field of International Relations.

 

Career, Noteworthy Accomplishments, Issues, Events

  • Management Consultant at McKinsey
  • Foreign Policy Aide to Michael Dukakis presidential campaign
  • Worked on National Security Council under Clinton then becoming Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
  • Ambassador to the United Nations in the Obama Administration
  • National Security Adviser under Obama
  • Brookings Institution Fellow
  • Rice played a major role in peace negotiations between Ethiopia and Eritrea during the Eritrean–Ethiopian War
  • At the Brookings Institution focused on U.S. foreign policy, weak and failing states, the implications of global poverty, and transnational threats to security
  • Was opposed to 2003 invasion of Iraq
  • She was one of the first high-profile foreign policy staffers to sign onto Obama’s campaign,
  • Spoke out against Syria’s Assad and called for him to step down. Supports the Syrian people.

Memberships of Note

Aspen Strategy Group

American Academy of Diplomacy

Council on Foreign Relations

Rice has been the focus of attack from Republicans over Benghazi for many years and has been accused of stating the attacks were “spontaneous”. Judging from an appearance on the cable news program Face The Nation a few days after the attack, however, she qualified it by saying that it was based on the info they had at the time.

Fun Facts: Rice is on Netflix’ Board of Directors. Rice, like Kamala Harris is of Caribbean extraction; her maternal grandparents are Jamaican.

 

Kamala Harris

Senator Kamala Haris
Senator Kamala Haris

Before she became a US senator, Kamala Harris’ name was seriously floated as a potential supreme court nominee and then for secretary of state,both of which she declined to entertain. She was also a top name almost form the beginning of the race for the democratic presidential nominee so it’s safe to say that Harris, whatever happens with the Vice Presidency is destined to hold a position of power and influence and government.

Both parents are immigrants. Her mother, a scientist, immigrated from India and her father immigrated from Jamaica, eventually becoming a Stanford University Emeritus Professor of Economics,

Harris lived in Canada during her teens when her mother was a professor at McGill University

Education

Howard University, Bachelors in Political Science and Economics

UC Hastings School of Law, Juris Doctor

Career, Noteworthy Accomplishments, Issues, Events

  • Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County
  • Assistant District Attorney, San Francisco becoming chief of Career Criminal Division
  • She campaigned against Proposition 21, which sought to try juvenile offenders in superior court as opposed to juvenile court.
  • District Attorney, San Francisco 2004-2010
  • Established California Bureau of Children’s Justice
  • substantial increase in convictions for felonies- roughly 50% to 75%
  • Pledged never to seek the death penalty
  • Went up against corporations that committed environmental crimes
  • Substantial increase in convictions for marijuana possession though most were not subsequently sent to prison.
  • Created a gun crime unit and increased penalties for gun related offensesBacked legislation banning gun shows on city and county property
  • Facilitated creation of re-entry program for first-time non-violent offenders ages 18-30. Called Back on Track, it earned recognition from the U.S. Department of Justice as a model for reentry programs. 
  •  created a special Hate Crimes Unit, focusing on hate crimes against LGBT children and teens in schools.
  • Going off of data that indicated that most inmates and homicide victims are dropouts or habitual truants, Harris created a program wherein parents of chronically truant students faced jail and monetary penalties. Seven parents were prosecuted over a span of three years.
  • Attorney General 2011-2017
  • Implemented her truancy policy
  • Implemented policies to lessen police violence caused by implicit bias and announced a new state law requiring every law enforcement agency in California to collect, report, and publish expanded statistics on how many people are shot, seriously injured or killed by peace officers throughout the state.
  • Spearheaded a number of measures meant to uncover and address excessive use of force by police.
  • Declared she would not support Proposition 8, which sought to make gay marriage illegal
  • Implemented measures to stop illegal foreclosures in California by some of America’s largest banks.
  • secured a $60 million settlement with JP Morgan Chase to resolve allegations of illegal debt collection with
  •  Senator (2017-)
  • Member Senate Judiciary Committee, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Budget
  • Sponsored the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act which passed the Senate but not the House.

Caucus memberships

Vied for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020

Harris has written three books-

Harris is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha

Kamala Harris’ Voting Record

 

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