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    The Importance of Electoral Politics in Social Change Movements

    Mandy Carter

    By Mandy Carter–

    I wonder how many of us could ever have thought that we would have our first-ever woman, and woman of color, as our vice-president? I sure didn’t at first.

    That was until I remembered having had the good fortune of working on the historic election of our first-ever Black president, Barack Obama, in his 2008 presidential election campaign.

    As an out Black lesbian and lifelong Democrat, I count myself fortunate to have worked on two winning historic campaigns that proactively engaged our LGBTQ+ communities. In 2008, soon-to-be President Obama formed Obama Pride with five national co-chairs for his national LGBT leadership team. They included myself of Durham, NC; Marsha Botzer of Seattle, WA; Jesse Garcia of Dallas, TX; Campbell Spencer of Washington, DC; and Eric Stern of Berkeley, CA.

    For me, the experience underscored the importance of electoral politics in social change movements. I had done the hard work of organizing grassroots networks, especially people of color throughout the South. Notably, one of the first southern states that Obama won in his 2008 election was Virginia. He also won my state of North Carolina. And, in 2020, with the help of The LGBTQ+ Out for Biden-Harris Leadership Council and numerous others, Kamala Harris won her herstoric election, becoming our first-ever woman and woman of color vice-president.

    President Obama’s Statement on Stonewall

    I also now think of former President Obama’s statement concerning the Stonewall Riots. He said this on June 1, 2017, at the start of Pride month that year: “While we have come a long way since the Stonewall Riots of 1969, we still have lots of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But, at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It’s about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.”

    Remembering Georgia Congressman John Lewis

    A truly historic event was held in 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Selma-To-Montgomery Voting Rights March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Georgia Congressman John Lewis (1940–2020) walked across the bridge with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

    In 1965, Lewis was a civil rights activist and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He attempted to lead 600 people across the Edmund Pettis Bridge to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, for the right to vote. They were brutally attacked by Alabama state troopers. That led to then President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark federal legislation that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

    I got to participate in the 50th Anniversary of the Edmund Pettus Bridge crossing representing ourNational Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) with students from Warren Wilson College, a progressive liberal arts college located in Swannanoa, North Carolina. NBJC, founded in 2003, is a national civil rights organization serving our LGBTQ+ and same-gender loving people. Our mission is to end racism and homophobia. We collaborate with national civil rights groups and LGBTQ+ organizations.

    President-elect Kamala Harris in 2024 or 2028?

    We now have the 2020 election win of President Biden and Vice-President Harris. That said, I am already eagerly looking ahead to when Vice President Kamala Harris will run for the presidency. It could be in 2024 if President Biden doesn’t run for re-election. Or, it could be 2028 if he wins and can’t run again and she can. Either way, count me in!

    For more information about the National Black Justice Coalition: www.nbjc.org

    Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, Mandy Carter is one of the leading Black lesbian activists in the United States. She is known for organizing grassroots networks, especially people of color throughout the South. Carter was inducted into the International Federation of Black Prides’ Black LGBT Hall of Fame during the January 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr., Day holiday and is the recipient of numerous other honors. For more information, see her biography at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation website: https://www.woodhullfoundation.org/leadership/mandy-carter/

    Published on February 11, 2021