Black women take over top spots for Democratic convention

By Duchess Magazine

Some of the most memorable moments from the Democratic National Convention’s second night include Hillary Clinton officially being nominated, Bill Clinton’s speech, and a honor to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Three black women are running the Democratic National Convention this week, taking charge of the top jobs that keep the massive gathering on schedule and, as much as possible, on message.


Veteran Democratic strategist Donna Brazile stepped up at the last minute to serve as interim chairman of the Democratic National Committee after embattled Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned from her position Sunday. Although her resignation is effective at the end of the convention, Wasserman Schultz has essentially been forced out of having any public role in Philadelphia after leaked committee emails showed top DNC staffers scheming against the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Brazile, who was already the committee’s vice chair of voter registration and participation, addressed the convention Tuesday night.

“I sat at the back of the bus at a time when America wasn’t yet as great as it could be,” she said in a rousing speech to the packed hall. “As long as she (Hillary Clinton) is in charge, we’re never going back, and that’s why I’m with her.”

Brazile is joined this week by Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, who is serving as convention chairman, and the Rev. Leah Daughtry, a Washington D.C. pastor who is reprising her 2008 role as the convention’s CEO.

Convention officials could not say definitively if this is the first time that three African American women have held the top three convention spots, but they said they could not remember another time that it has happened.

“When Democrats say ‘We the people,’ we mean all the people,” said Daughtry, speaking Monday during the first night of the convention. “All the people regardless of race, color, creed or ethnicity…We know that our diversity is not our problem. It is our promise.”

All three women are used to making history.

Brazile was the first African-American to manage a major presidential campaign, working to try to elect former Vice President Al Gore in 2000. Fudge was the first African-American and first female mayor of Warrensville, Ohio. And Daughtry is the only person to serve as CEO twice — once when Democrats chose their first black nominee and now that they are about to nominate the first woman.

“It is absolutely progress for women, and specifically women of color, to have a critical mass in key positions of power,” said Nichola Gutgold, professor of communication at Pennsylvania State University and the author of numerous books on women and the presidency. “Research shows that when we see people in power who have not historically held positions of power, it paves the way … for more.”

Another black woman, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, also stepped in to help convention organizers at the last minute when she banged the gavel to officially begin the convention Monday. Wasserman Schultz was originally scheduled to perform the ceremonial task, but bowed out early Monday as the email controversy continued to dog her.

John L. Jackson, dean of the school of social policy and practice at the University of Pennsylvania, said he thought many Democrats would see the emergence of the black female leaders as “a swift and substantive response to the Wasserman Schultz controversy.”

Fudge, who is charged with maintaining order as part of her duties as convention chairman, had to deal with some after-effects of that controversy on Monday night when Sanders’ supporters kept shouting “Bernie” and interrupting her and other speakers.

“I know there are many of you in this room who don’t know me,” Fudge said, addressing the rowdy delegates. “I intend to be fair. I want to hear the varying opinions here. I’m gong to be respectful of you, and I want you to be respectful of me.”

For at least a few moments, the delegates calmed down.

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