This breakthrough moment may be a fleeting one. In Atlanta, a city where nearly half of the population is Black, Ms. Bottoms announced earlier this year that she would not be running for a second term. Two Black candidates — Kasim Reed, a man and the city’s former mayor, and Felicia Moore, a woman and the current city council president — are leading the race to replace her in the Nov. 2 election, according to a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll.
In Boston, Ms. Janey, who was appointed acting mayor earlier this year, came in fourth in the preliminary election this fall, failing to secure a spot in the runoff; the frontrunner to replace her, Michelle Wu, is an Asian American woman and a current city councilor. Even without Ms. Janey, though, the number of Black women mayors may not diminish. India Walton, a Democrat, is currently running for mayor of Buffalo; if elected, she would be the first woman — and first Black woman — to lead New York’s second-largest city.
Political experts attribute the rise in Black female mayors, and Black women in other elected positions, to a number of factors, including a changing electorate, grass roots activism and increased support from so-called gatekeepers, including political parties, major unions and other organizations that can help boost a candidate through fund-raising and endorsements.
This trend has accelerated in the last five years, Debbie Walsh, the director of CAWP, said: “There has been increased activism in recruiting and supporting women of color who are running for office, certainly on the Democratic side. More and more of these gatekeepers are engaging and seeking out Black women candidates.”
One political scientist also points to young Black women’s early exposure to civic engagement through sororities and other clubs, describing their political rise as “Black girl magic.”