The entire world watched George Floyd take his last breath as he called out for his mother. Minnesota Black women heard his cry and responded with their collective political power.
On June 2, nearly 10 Black women filed to run for U.S. Congress and State Senate and House Representative seconds before the deadline.
With over 40 African American candidates expected on the U.S., State, municipal ballot, this year’s primary will change the political discourse on the impacts of racism in Minnesota.
Days after the women filed for office, the Star Tribune covered the candidates and influencers. Hours after that article was released, MSNBC interviewed candidate Laverne McCartney Knighton. Many of the high-ranking candidates were also interviewed on BBC News and other outlets.
Alberder Gillespie is running for U.S. Congress in District 4. She founded Black Women Rising (BWR) after years of working in DFL politics training and coaching other candidates, many of whom were White. But when it came for Black women to run themselves, she’s heard it all: “It’s not our time; we shouldn’t do that. We would love it, but…
“There’s not a system that’s supportive of us. The idea [was] that they can represent me, but I can’t represent them,” recalled Gillespie.
This is the first time in Minnesota history that an African American woman ran for State Senate and there are four of them.
Aarica Coleman, who is running for Senate in District, 34, said, “I’ve already been pushing for this and advocating for policy and action that follows it up. There are so many people who have gone unheard and unlistened to. What happened to George Floyd put it over the top for me.”
Zina Fizer, who is running for Senate in District 44, said, “There’s never going to be a right time. There’s never going to be a time when all the stars are going to align. You have to get in right now because this is the state of emergency that we’re in. In order for things to change, it has to be while we’re in this perfect storm.”
Marquita Stephens is running for Senate in District 53. She shared, “To have [George Floyd] holler for his mother at that point, you know you had to respond. If something would happen to them, I’m putting on my shoes and I’m going. That’s what a mom does.”
Laverne McCartney Knighton, who is running for Senate District 65, said, “Me for Senate? Are you crazy? [But], it’s weighed on me in ways I didn’t even know it would. And I ask myself every day, what are you doing? What are you getting ready to do?”
Anika Bowie, vice president of the Minneapolis NAACP and BWR advisor, added, “We don’t have time for folks to figure it out anymore. We don’t have time for elected officials—no matter what side of the aisle you are on—to finally pass policy that treats members of the Black [African American] community with dignity.”
All candidates are running in the primary election held June 26 – August 11.
To learn more about Black Women Rising and the candidates, visit the website at www.blackwomenrising.net.
To check your voter registration and request mail-in ballots for the 8/11 primary and 11/3 election day, go to http://sos.state.mn.us.
—Information provided by Black Women Rising.