According to Axios, Francia Márquez will become the South American nation’s first Black vice president after Gustavo Petro won the country’s presidential runoff election on Sunday.
Márquez celebrated the historical moment with a poignant statement that spoke to the marginalization of Black Colombians, “It’s time to move from resistance to power.”
The 40-year-old former maid turned attorneys and activist became Petro’s vice-president elect after the leftist guerrilla leader beat a millionaire real estate mogul in an election usually won by Colombia’s moderate and conservative politicians. France 24 reported that Márquez’s win signified a shift in political and social shift in a nation plagued by a fundamentally racist country.
Born in Yolombó, a town in the province of Antioquia, Black people were considered the minority– representing only 2% of the population. Márquez’s representation of Blacks in Colombia is much-needed in politics given the country’s 6.2% Afro-descendant population having been ignored and marginalized since the nation’s inception.
About Márquez’s victory, Olga Lucia Gonzalez, an associate researcher and specialist on Colombia at the University of Paris-Diderot, shared with France 24 the excitement behind her win, “Within the population, there has been a lot of popular anger in recent months directed towards the political class, particularly linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. Francia Marquez comes from civil society and not from the traditional political elite. This is an argument that she plays on, and that goes greatly in her favour.”
Gonzalez also explained that Márquez did address issues that weren’t necessarily important to previous Colombian administrations, adding, “But above all, she is a woman, Black, Afro-Colombian, and she brings with her issues that until now have been totally forgotten, like the relationship to colonialism, sexism, racism.”
Sunday’s election also had another Black candidate– Marelen Castillo, the running mate of runner-up Rodolfo Hernández,.
On the importance of having Black leadership within the second nation in the Western Hemisphere with the largest Black population, Colombian anthropologist Eduardo Restrepo told AXIOS, “Afro-Colombians are overrepresented in the numbers of forcibly displaced people and victims of violence. This idea inherited from colonial times that some people are meant to govern and others to be governed.”
Simone Biles continues to break records and make history. On July 7, the 25-year-old Olympian, along with 16 other honorees, received the esteemed Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor — making her the youngest person to ever do so, according to President Joe Biden.
Beyond being a world-renowned gymnast, Biles was honored as a “prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system, and victims of sexual assault,” the White House previously announced.
“Today, [Biles] adds to her medal count of 32 — I don’t know if you’re going to find room,” President Biden joked during his remarks at the White House. Biden then praised Biles for her ability “to turn personal pain into a greater purpose, to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.” During the award ceremony, Biles wore a bright smile and black tweed blazer dress as Biden placed her medal around her neck, and her fiancé, Jonathan Owens, was there to cheer her on from the front row.
Biles was honored alongside other recipients like Megan Rapinoe and Denzel Washington, though the latter wasn’t present for the ceremony due to a positive COVID test, CNN reported. The actor will be awarded his medal at a later date.
Over the years, Biles has shattered glass ceilings in the sports world and become the most decorated gymnast in world championship history. Now, her latest accomplishment only solidifies that she’s a true trailblazer. Ahead, check out more photos of her receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House.
When sworn in this summer, Jackson will be the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s high court.
“This is one of the great moments of American history,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote. “Today we are taking a giant, bold and important step on the well-trodden path to fulfilling our country’s founding promise.
This is a great moment for Judge Jackson but it is an even greater moment for America as we rise to a more perfect union.”
President Biden called the vote a “historic moment” for the nation. “We’ve taken another step toward making our highest court reflect the diversity of America,” Biden posted on Twitter.
All 50 Senate Democrats, including the two independents who caucus with them, voted for Jackson’s confirmation. They were joined by three Republicans: Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Click here to read the complete article posted on NPR.
(CNN) President Joe Biden has selected Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court, setting in motion a historic confirmation process for the first Black woman to sit on the highest court in the nation.
Biden will deliver remarks on Friday afternoon announcing the selection, the White House said. CNN first reported Biden’s decision.
Jackson, 51, currently sits on DC’s federal appellate court and had been considered the front-runner for the vacancy since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement.
She received and accepted Biden’s offer in a call Thursday night, a source familiar with the decision told CNN, but was present for DC Circuit Court hearings Friday morning.
Biden met with Jackson for her Supreme Court interview earlier this month, a senior administration official said, in a meeting that the White House managed to keep secret.
For more than a year, the President had familiarized himself with her work, reading many of her opinions and other writings, along with those of other contenders.
But the official said Biden also was impressed by her life story, including her rise from federal public defender to federal appellate judge — and her upbringing as the daughter of two public school teachers and administrators.
If there is one name that has become synonymous with heroism, it is Stacey Abrams.
“Whatever happens,” author and niece of former president Trump, Mary L. Trump tweeted on the evening of Nov. 3, 2020, “@staceyabrams is a hero.”
“She is one of THE heroes of the US election #StaceyAbrams,” tweeted actress Thandiwe Newton on Nov. 6 2020.
Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Susan Rice, Viola Davis and Whoopi Goldberg were among those who tweeted thank you’s to their new hero during the 2020 election.
The 49-year-old Abrams founded Fair Fight, an organization dedicated to addressing voter suppression, in 2018 and is credited with registering 800,000 new voters across Georgia who were affected by voter suppression in time for the 2020 U.S elections.
On Dec.1, 2021 Abrams had her own tweet to share:
“I’m running for Governor because opportunity in our state shouldn’t be determined by zip code, background or access to power.”
Besides being a candidate for governor, Abrams also happens to be a tax attorney, romance novelist, and former state representative, serving in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017 and as minority leader from 2011 to 2017.
Abrams is a powerhouse. A superwoman. A hero.
But the journey of the hero we often see, in literature, movies and life, is not one without conflict. From Odysseus to Luke Skywalker, the hero’s journey is a long one that begins with a departure, followed by an initiation and ultimately a return.
Abrams’ journey is no exception.
Act I: The Call to Action
Abrams was born in 1973, the second of six siblings, in Madison, Wis. Her parents, Robert and Carolyn Abrams, raised their family in Gulfport, Miss. before moving the family to Atlanta, Ga., where they pursued graduate degrees at Emory University and eventually became Methodist ministers.
Abrams interest in politics began at a young age. When she was 17, she was hired as a typist for a congressional campaign, which led to a promotion to speechwriter, based on the edits she had made while typing.
It was during high school that she learned an important lesson about her worth too.
In 1991, Abrams was valedictorian of her high school class and received an invitation to meet the Governor of Georgia. The family didn’t have a car, and instead took the bus to the Governor’s Mansion. Upon arrival, the guard at the gate stopped the Abrams family, saying the event was private, and they didn’t belong there. Her parents presented the the invitation, stating their daughter was invited to the event.
“I think two things happened that day,” Abrams said when she recounted the story to CBS news in May of 2021, “One, they were not going to let me be denied this honor that I’d achieved. But two, I think they wanted me to see my responsibility is to not let someone else tell me who I am and where I belong.”
Abrams earned a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies from Spelman College, studied public policy at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, where she earned a Master of Public Affairs degree and earned a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School.
After law school, Abrams worked as a tax attorney at Atlanta’s Sutherlan Asbill & Brennan law firm, primarily working with tax-exempt organizations, health care and public finance.
Abrams was appointed a deputy city attorney for the City of Atlanta in 2002. Then in 2006, she won a seat as a Democrat in the Georgia Assembly and became the first female minority leader of her party.
In 2010, she co-founded Nourish, Inc, which was eventually rebranded as the invoicing solution business, NOW Corp. She became district attorney for Atlanta and then minority leader for Georgia’s House Democrats in 2011, all while writing romance novels under the pen name, Selena Montgomery.
Her level of accomplishments up until this point already seemed heroic. Abrams was just getting warmed up.
Act II: The Road of Trials
Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia in 2018 and the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States. Abrams ran against then Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp. She ultimately lost to Kemp by less than two percentage points.
Abrams claimed there was a gross mismanagement of the election by the Secretary of State’s office. The Associated Press reported at the time that Kemp put nearly 53,000 voter registrations on hold ahead of the election, nearly 70 percent of them from Black people.
Allegations of voter suppression sparked a massive voter registration effort, spearheaded primarily by Abrams.
Within days of the election, Abrams founded Fair Fight, an organization devoted to promoting fair elections, encouraging voter participation in elections and educating voters about elections and their voting rights.
It is no coincidence voter suppression is most notably associated with the civil rights movement. Voter suppression, particularly of voters of color, isn’t always easy to understand if you’ve never experienced it Abrams has said.
“When you’ve never had to think about the hardship of voting, then yes, these conversations on voter suppression seem absurd to you,” Abrams said in her May interview with CBS News, “When you have never spent more than seven minutes in line, it is nearly impossible to imagine that there are poor Black people who stand in line for eight hours, miss an entire day’s wages, risk losing their jobs simply to cast a ballot in an election that may or may not have any benefit in their lives.”
After her loss, Abrams fought to campaign against voter suppression
in the run-up to the 2020 election through Fair Fight, making sure that everyone who had the right to vote, did so.
Her efforts were successful.
In the 2018 election, her campaign registered more than 200,000 new voters. In 2020, Fair Fight and her other organization, the New Georgia Project, registered more than 800,000 new voters.
Besides fighting against voter suppression, Fair Fight has taken on other causes that align with Abrams’ platform.
In 2019, Abrams launched Fair Count to ensure accuracy in the 2020 Census, stressing the need for greater participation in civic engagement from the POC community, and the Southern Economic Advancement Project, which is a public policy initiative to broaden economic power and build equity in the South.
More recently, Fair Fight has turned its attention to the state’s healthcare system.
In October, Fair Fight launched a new seven-figure ad campaign urging Gov. Brian Kemp to help Georgians by supporting an expansion of Medicaid.
Paying off medical debt is another part of Fair Fight’s advocacy.
“I know firsthand how medical costs and a broken healthcare system put families further
and further in debt,” Abrams said in a statement on Fair Fight’s website, “Working with
RIP Medical Debt, Fair Fight is stepping in where others have refused to take action. For people of color, the working poor and middle-class families facing crushing costs, we hope to relieve the strain on desperate Americans and on hospitals struggling to remain open.”
In November, Fair Fight celebrated the win of 12 Fair Fight-endorsed candidates in local elections across Georgia.
“Democrats in Georgia scored key victories as Fair Fight-endorsed, pro-voting rights candidates prevailed in every corner of the state,” said Fair Fight Political Director André Fields.
Abrams used her loss to build a sturdy platform on which she could stand, and see tomorrow.
Act III: The Hero Returns
Abrams announced her campaign for Georgia governor on Dec. 1, 2021, promising to fight for economic equality and expand health care access.
“I’ve never stopped fighting for Georgia. I’ve never lost faith that — together — we can build a brighter future for all of us,” Abrams said in a statement on her official campaign website, “Together, we can keep more money in families’ pockets, help our communities prosper and give our children the greatest opportunities to thrive.”
Polls conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies in November suggest a race against Kemp, her long-time political rival, could be a close one, again. Abrams trailed Kemp by 3 points among likely voters in the state.
Abrams’s journey has been a long one that, truthfully, is still ongoing. As she prepares her gubernatorial bid, she is also laying the groundwork for the next leg of her journey: a bid for the presidency.
“When someone asks me if that’s my ambition, I have a responsibility to say yes,” Abrams told CBS News, “For every young woman, every person of color, every young person of color, who sees me and decides what they’re capable of based on what I think I am capable of.”
On the eighth and final season premiere of Black-ish Tuesday, Michelle Obama made a guest appearance after the show’s main characters attended an event for When We All Vote, an organization that Obama founded to help register and turn out voters across the country.
What began as Andre (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross)’s chance encounter with the former first lady turned into a casual dinner at the Johnson house.
Obama’s main scene mostly consisted of the rest of Dre and Bow’s family interrupting with attempts to try and impress her. And there were also a few moments of conversation among Obama, Dre and Bow about what it’s like having teenage kids.
“When our girls were that age, you should have seen how they rolled their eyes, especially at their father,” Obama said during the episode.
But clearly the cameo for Obama, who was personally asked to appear on the show by Ross herself, was all about getting the word out about voter registration. And while it was subtle within the episode, Obama reiterated the objective with a tweet after the show aired, reminding people to get themselves and others registered.
Meanwhile, viewers on Twitter celebrated Obama’s appearance on the hit series with plenty of praise and even a few requests like, “Please decide to be president in 2024” and “I too would like to invite you over for dinner.”
Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Entertainment.
Deqa Dhalac saw it in their faces when she started campaigning. Some people, she says, seemed scared to open their doors when she knocked. Others saw her hijab and assumed she didn’t speak English. But Dhalac kept knocking and telling her story. And she says a lot has changed since those days back in 2018, when she first ran for City Council in South Portland, Maine — and won. On Monday she became the first Black mayor of the small city on the state’s Southern Coast. And she’s believed to be the first Somali American mayor in the United States. South Portland’s other city councilors, who are all White, elected her in a unanimous vote, heaping praise on Dhalac for her dedication to the community and thoughtful consideration of issues.
Dhalac, 53, says her election shows what can be accomplished when people find ways to connect with each other instead of putting up walls.
“People will always have some kind of reservation…but will get to know you, listen to you and see who you are through that,” she says. Given that Maine is the whitest state in the country, and that South Portland is 90% White, Dhalac knows her election sounds surprising to some. But she says that it shouldn’t be. And that’s one reason she ran for office in the first place. She hopes her election as mayor will inspire others to follow in her footsteps.
“I’m…really proud of the fact that I’m going to be opening a lot of paths for other folks who look like me, especially our young community members, to say, ‘If this woman can do this, actually I can do that,'” Dhalac told the City Council last month after her nomination. “And also not only for immigrant, first-generation or Black people, but also young, White individuals who may have been afraid or don’t want to be a part of the civic duties that we all have. … I say, ‘Yes, if I can do this, yes, you can do it. We really, really need you, each and every one of you in this beautiful city of ours, to step up.'”
Her election marks multiple milestones
Dhalac’s inauguration is a milestone for Somali immigrant communities that have grown in size and become more established in states like Maine, Minnesota, Ohio and Washington. As that’s happened, more Somali Americans are taking on roles on local school boards and city councils — and also serving as lawmakers, like Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota.
Dhalac is the first Somali American mayor in the United States, according to New American Leaders, an organization that trains and encourages immigrants to run for office. But the organization says they hope she won’t be the last.
“Her leadership will certainly make a big difference not only in South Portland, but around the country,” said Ghida Dagher, the organization’s president. “She’s going to serve an example for Somali Americans across the country to step up and step into their own leadership journey. … It’s about owning their own power and potential in our democracy.” Dhalac’s election is also a historic first for South Portland, which has never had a Black mayor before, says Seth Goldstein, vice president of the South Portland Historical Society. Goldstein, who teaches history and leads historical tours in the area, says he’s happy to watch this new chapter in his city’s history unfold. “It’s very exciting, I think that it is reflective of the way that the community here is gradually changing,” Goldstein says. About 6,000 Somalis live in Maine, Goldstein said, thanks to a wave of migration that began in the early 2000s.
Their arrival hasn’t always been met with open arms. In 2002, the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, drew national media attention when he wrote an open letter telling Somali immigrants not to come to his city.
But Dhalac says the people she’s met in Maine have been welcoming, and in recent years she’s seen more Somalis and other immigrants taking on leadership positions in the state. In the past, she says, immigrants were more hesitant to run because they were focused on making ends meet and supporting their families.
“I think we were always kind of afraid to get involved. … We were waiting on somebody (else) to do something,” she said.
In 2018, Dhalac got tired of waiting.
President Joe Biden on Friday temporarily transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris while he was under anesthesia for a routine colonoscopy for one hour and 25 minutes, according to the White House.
The nation’s first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president broke yet another barrier when she temporarily stepped into the acting role. Harris worked from her office in the West Wing while Biden was under anesthesia, according to Psaki.
“@POTUS spoke with @VP and @WHCOS at approximately 11:35am this morning. @POTUS was in good spirits and at that time resumed his duties. He will remain at Walter Reed as he completes the rest of his routine physical,” Psaki tweeted.
Biden, who turns 79 on Saturday, arrived Friday morning at Walter Reed Medical Center to undergo his first routine annual physical since taking office.
It’s routine for a vice president to assume presidential powers while the president undergoes a medical procedure that requires anesthesia. Then-Vice President Dick Cheney did so on multiple occasions when then-President George W. Bush underwent routine colonoscopies.
To officially transfer the presidential powers to Harris, Biden sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the president pro tempore of the Senate, at 10:10 a.m. ET before going under anesthesia.
The letter reads: “Today I will undergo a routine medical procedure requiring sedation. In view of present circumstances, I have determined to transfer temporarily the powers and duties of the office of President of the United States to the Vice President during the brief period of the procedure and recovery.”
Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution says the President can send a letter to the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate declaring declaring they are “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.”
In order to transfer the powers back to Biden, a separate letter was sent after the procedure.
“In accordance with the provisions of section 3 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, I hereby transmit to you my written declaration that I am able to discharge the powers and duties of the Office of the President of the United States and that I am resuming those powers and duties,” the letter, which was sent to both Pelosi and Leahy, reads.
Earlier this year, former President Donald Trump’s ex-press secretary Stephanie Grisham heavily implied that Biden’s predecessor underwent a colonoscopy in a secret visit to Walter Reed in 2019, but kept it quiet to avoid transferring presidential power to then-Vice President Mike Pence.
In her book, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” Grisham does not use the term colonoscopy but heavily implies that’s what the trip was for. She says Trump’s hospital visit, which stirred weeks-long speculation about his health was a “very common procedure,” during which “a patient is put under.” She also writes that Bush had a similar procedure while in office. Grisham writes Trump did not want then-Vice President Mike Pence to be in power while he was sedated, which was part of the reason he kept his visit private. He also “did not want to be the butt of a joke” on late-night television, writes Grisham.
Biden is the oldest first-term president in US history, and the last comprehensive update on Biden’s medical history came nearly two years ago when his presidential campaign released a three-page summary of his medical history in December 2019.
Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s primary care doctor since 2009, described Biden as “a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male,” at the time.
When it comes to running your small business, one of the greatest assets you can acquire to help you succeed is a government contract.
The U.S. government is the largest customer in the world. It buys all types of products and services — in both large and small quantities — and it’s required by law to consider buying from small businesses.
The government wants to buy from small businesses for several reasons, including:
To ensure that large businesses don’t “muscle out” small businesses
To gain access to the new ideas that small businesses provide
To support small businesses as engines of economic development and job creation
To offer opportunities to disadvantaged socio-economic groups
There are a multitude of contracts that can be obtained and further searched into using Sam.gov, but here are a few of the different types of government contracts that could help fund your small business:
Set-aside contracts for small businesses:
To help provide a level playing field for small businesses, the government limits competition for certain contracts to small businesses. Those contracts are called “small business set-asides,” and they help small businesses compete for and win federal contracts.
There are two kinds of set-aside contracts: competitive set-asides and sole-source set-asides.
Competitive set-aside contracts:
When at least two small businesses could perform the work or provide the products being purchased, the government sets aside the contract exclusively for small businesses. With few exceptions, this happens automatically for all government contracts under $150,000.
Some set-asides are open to any small business, but some are open only to small businesses who participate in SBA contracting assistance programs.
Sole-source set-aside contracts:
Most contracts are competitive, but sometimes there are exceptions to this rule. Sole-source contracts are a kind of contract that can be issued without a competitive bidding process. This usually happens in situations where only a single business can fulfill the requirements of a contract. To be considered for a sole-source contract, register your business with the System for Award Management (SAM) and participate in any contracting program you may qualify for.
In some cases, sole-source contracts must be published publicly, and will be marked with an intent to sole source. Potential vendors can still view and bid on these contracts. Once the bidding process begins, the intent to sole-source may be withdrawn.
Contracting Assistance Programs:
The federal government uses special programs to help small businesses win at least at 23 percent of all federal contracting dollars each year. There are different programs for different attributes of a small business, such as:
8 (a) Business Development Program: Small Disadvantaged businesses.
Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program: Women-owned businesses
SBA Mentor-Protégé program: Sets up your business with an experienced government contractor
Natural Resource Sales Assistance Program: Provides natural resources and surplus property to small businesses.
Joint Ventures: Allows businesses to team up and acquire government contracts (more info below)
Two or more small businesses may pool their efforts by forming a joint venture to compete for a contract award. A joint venture of multiple small businesses still qualifies for small business set-aside contracts if its documentation meets SBA requirements.
Small businesses that have a mentor-protege relationship through the All-Small Mentor-Protege program can form a joint venture with a mentor (which can be a large business). These joint ventures can compete together for government contracts reserved for small businesses.
A joint venture can also bid on contracts that are set aside for service-disabled veteran-owned, women-owned, or HUBZone businesses, if a member of the joint venture meets SBA requirements to do so.
If you still have questions or are looking for additional information, visit sam.gov or sba.gov. No matter what your situation is, there are many opportunities available to help your small business succeed.
President Joe Biden’s nominee for a powerful appeals court who is also being watched as a potential future Supreme Court pick cleared a procedural hurdle Thursday in the Senate and is on track for confirmation as soon as next week. The Senate also confirmed Zahid Quraishi as the nation’s first Muslim federal judge. Despite opposition from some Republicans, the Senate agreed 52-46 to cut off debate on the appeals court nomination of U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, meaning her confirmation for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is all but assured.
The Senate has ramped up its approval of Biden’s judicial nominees in recent weeks and the chamber also cut off debate Thursday on Quraishi, a federal magistrate, and confirmed him 81-16 for a judgeship in the District of New Jersey. Quraishi had previously served as a military prosecutor, an Army captain and an assistant U.S. attorney.
But it is Jackson who has received the most attention among Biden’s early picks because she is considered a likely future nominee for the Supreme Court. Her confirmation to the appeals court is expected to take place as soon as Monday.
During the presidential campaign, Biden promised to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court for the first time in U.S. history, and Jackson’s name has appeared in the mix of leading candidates ever since. She was on President Barack Obama’s shortlist for a spot on the nation’s highest court after Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016.
Biden’s first opportunity to follow through on his campaign pledge would likely come if Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, retires sometime before the 2022 midterm election. Breyer hasn’t indicated whether or not he plans to retire this year.
Vice President Harris on Friday described a political moment “unlike any era that came before” as she addressed the graduating class of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
She became the first female commencement speaker in the school’s history. In front of an outdoor audience at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Harris urged graduating midshipmen to defend the country against a number of global threats, including cybersecurity attacks, climate change and biological hazards like the coronavirus.
Comparing the COVID-19 crisis to other “critical moments” that have shaped the nation’s history — including Pearl Harbor, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Sept. 11 attacks — Harris told graduates that they are walking into a “rapidly changing” world.
“The global pandemic you see, of course, has accelerated what was happening before and has accelerated our world into a new era. It has forever impacted our world. It has forever influenced our perspective,” she said. “If we weren’t clear before, we know now: Our world is interconnected. Our world is interdependent. And our world is fragile.”
The address comes as the Biden administration navigates a number of global challenges, including a probe into the origins of the coronavirus, a fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and cyberattacks from Russia. In March, President Biden asked Harris to lead the administration’s diplomatic efforts with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries to address migration at the U.S. border, though she did not mention immigration in the speech.
The White House also announced last month that the United States would withdraw all remaining troops from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
With her focus on potential threats to the United States, Harris’s remarks set a different tone from those of former President Donald Trump, who addressed the Naval Academy in 2018. In that speech, Trump told graduates that “we are witnessing the great reawakening of the American spirit and of American might.”
Harris expressed confidence in the U.S. military’s ability to put the country at “a strategic advantage,” citing its role in the development of technologies like walkie talkies, the internet and satellite navigation. She also noted the military’s involvement in the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines — and she praised graduates for getting vaccinated.
“You guys rolled up your sleeves and you got vaccinated and you made it to this day,” she said to a round of applause.
Before Byron Donalds became a congressman, he worked in banking and insurance and was a Florida state representative. Growing up, he says he was an apolitical registered Democrat. But the party’s promises of individual liberty and conservatism made him want to be a Republican.
“I believe that if you have a system of government, which we mostly have in the United States, where most issues actually stay at the local and state levels and at the federal level, we deal with the things that, frankly, states can’t do on their own,” Donalds said in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
During the campaign and as a congressman, Donalds has held controversial views on Covid-19 safety protocols — not getting the vaccine or wearing a mask when we met up. He contracted Covid-19 last October.
A rising star in the party and one of two Black Republicans in the U.S. House, Donalds says he doesn’t believe that systemic racism exists. “One hundred years ago, if you had told me there was systemic racism in the United States, I would’ve said absolutely there was,” Donalds said. “Systemic and institutionalized racism today in the United States. No, no.”
A new wave of Black women are breaking barriers as they ascend to mayoral seats in cities with deeply rooted histories of racism and inequality.
On Tuesday, Tishaura Jones will be sworn in as the first Black female mayor of St. Louis after winning the election earlier this month.
Her victory came just two weeks after Kim Janey was appointed Boston’s first Black female mayor following the resignation of Marty Walsh, who is now the US Labor Secretary. Janey recently announced she would run for a full term in this year’s mayoral election.
With the ascension of Jones and Janey, there will be a historic high of nine Black women serving as mayors of the nation’s 100 largest cities. Other major cities led by Black women include Atlanta, San Francisco; Chicago; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; New Orleans; Washington, DC; and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Political observers say the growing number of Black female mayors signals they are gaining electoral strength and appealing to voters in races that have been historically won by White men. They say Black women have proven they are relatable with an ability to lead, organize and engage new voters. Black women are also speaking out against the racial disparities in their communities at a time when the nation is having to reckon with systemic racism and police violence against Black people.
Kimberly Peeler-Allen, a visiting practitioner at the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University, said as more Black women rise to political power, the electorate is seeing the importance of having diverse voices making decisions.
“Black and brown women are running with a message that is a totality of their life experiences, which transcends race or gender,” Peeler-Allen said. “And there are people who are saying ‘she may not look like me but I know we share the same experience, because she is wrestling with credit card debt, or she has a family member with addiction or she’s a small business owner, she’s a veteran.'”
Peeler-Allen said she believes the advancement of Black women in all levels of government could also be inspiring more to run for office.
In the last few years, Kamala Harris became the first Black female vice president, Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts’ first Black woman elected to Congress, and Tish James was elected New York’s first Black female attorney general.
Stacey Abrams narrowly lost her bid to become the nation’s first Black woman governor in 2018, but is now a powerful advocate for voting rights for people of color. Some political analysts view Abrams as a viable candidate for Georgia’s gubernatorial election in 2022.
Creating equity in St. Louis
Both Jones and Janey have vowed to make racial equity a priority while reflecting on their own lived experiences as Black women.
Jones said during her victory speech that she would not stay silent or ignore the racism that has held St. Louis back.
She told CNN she wants to address the exodus of Black residents in recent years and why they don’t feel welcome in St. Louis. The city’s Black population dropped from 51% to 45% in the last 10 years.
Jones said she wants to revitalize the northern part of the city where she grew up because the neighborhoods have been neglected.
“I am ready for St. Louis to thrive instead of just survive,” Jones said on CNN “New Day” earlier this month. “We need to provide opportunities for everyone to succeed, no matter their zip code, the color of their skin, who they love or how they worship.”
Kayla Reed, executive director of the grassroots racial justice group St. Louis Action, said she believes Jones can relate to the plight of Black people in St. Louis because of her lived experience as a single mother from a marginalized neighborhood.
The city, Reed said, struggles with segregation, disparities in education, employment and housing, overpolicing and violence in the Black community.
Reed said Jones has embraced the demands of a racial justice movement that started in 2014 when unrest broke out in nearby Ferguson following the police killing of Michael Brown. Ferguson elected its first Black woman mayor Ella Jones last year.
Jones is listening to the concerns of organizers and giving them a seat at the table, Reed said.
“She understands the unique inequality that our communities face,” said Reed, who campaigned for Jones and sits on her transition team. “And it gives her an advantage to think through creative, innovative solutions to shift outcomes and conditions.”