A’shanti F. Gholar

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 A'shanti F. Gholar is the President of Emerge America:

"Our leaders matter. As the first Black woman to lead Emerge nationally, I am thankful for the leadership of the women of the Emerge network, and look forward to those that will join our sisterhood in the years to come and continue to change the face of politics in this country. Onward and upwards." 

As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we must acknowledge that Black, Brown, and Indigenous women were not fully included in the suffrage movement and were not immediately granted the universal right to vote. A consequence of this can be seen in the low numbers of representation of Black women in elected office. 

At Emerge, we know that women of color, especially Black women, face additional barriers to running for office. Our training program is designed to not only demystify the process of running for office but to provide a network of support from when our alums run for office to when they are serving in elected office. Due to the amazing Black women in the Emerge network and others, 2020 will be a defining year for Black women in politics.

At the local level, we have seven Black women serving as mayors of major cities. In 2010, there was just one.  These women have been at the forefront as our nation faces two pandemics - a health pandemic and a racial injustice pandemic that is highlighting the intense levels of anti-Blackness engrained in America’s systems. These mayors, like Emerge California alum Mayor London Breed of San Francisco, are reshaping what executive leadership looks like in the middle of an unprecedented crisis. 

On the national level, a record number of Black women are running for Congress. Despite the fact that we have over 100 women currently serving in Congress, the most ever, there are only 22 Black women walking those halls. Emerge alum Congresswoman Lucy McBath, the first Black woman elected to Congress from Georgia, is the perfect example of how Black women turn personal tragedy into political power to serve not only the people of their district, but across the country.

And of course, there is Senator Kamala Harris, who became the first Black and Indian woman to be nominated as Vice President for a major political party. Senator Harris’ rise is the manifestation of the vision and work of Sojourner Truth, Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chisholm, and the countless others that came before her to ensure this moment was possible.