ATLANTA -- Several black women, including elected officials and community leaders, gathered Wednesday to discuss how Georgia will make history in November. For the first time in the state and nation, five black women will be on a statewide ballot.
These candidates include Doreen Carter for secretary of state, Liz Johnson for insurance commissioner, Robbin Shipp for labor commissioner, Connie Stokes for lieutenant governor and Valarie Wilson for school superintendent.
Wilson won her nomination the previous day in a runoff against another black woman, Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan of Austell. The Democratic ticket also includes Senate candidate Michelle Nunn. Nunn and Libertarian Amanda Swafford, both white women, will face Republican David Perdue in November’s Senate race.
“Never before in the history of Georgia or the nation has there been five African-American women on a ballot statewide,” said Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, D-Lithonia. “So, we did not want to miss the opportunity to get out and announce this to everyone in the state of Georgia and tell everyone how important this election will be in November.”
Shipp said it was a happy accident that all five women ended up running together.
“I didn’t know when I qualified on March 7 that I was going to be making history. I was just trying to serve,” she said. “So joining these ladies, joining this slate from the top of the ticket to the bottom, I believe that we are presenting to the state of Georgia an opportunity to elect individuals who genuinely care about families, who genuinely care about our children.”
To rally votes, the candidates and a group of elected officials will go on a bus tour beginning in August. The bus tour will start in Metro Atlanta and travel to cities with a majority of registered black women voters.
“What you find (with bus tours like this) is women are just energized,” said Helen Butler, executive director for the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “They understand that collectively they have the power.”
Janice Mathis, vice president and executive director of Rainbow PUSH, said their efforts show the dedication black women have toward important issues.
“It is a historic occasion, and it is so consistent with the way African-American women treat their institutions,” she said. “Whether it’s our churches or families or sororities, you won’t find women more devoted to causes than African American women.”