Capital Source

On this day, black women will fill the Senate chamber

1-18-2010 Dorchester,Mass. Over 300 guests attended the Industry and Community Investing in Children Lucheon and Tournament, celebrated annually on Martin Luther King Day at the Sportsmen's Tennis Club. The club was founded in 1961 and entering its 50th Anniversary year. The lucheon honored George A. Russell Jr. Executive Vice President of State Street Corporation. Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley of Dorchester sitting at the lucheon. Library Tag 02072010 Metro
Bill Brett for The Boston Globe/file
Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley.

Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley is asking 100 black women leaders to “Take Your Seat” in the Edward M. Kennedy Institute’s replica of the US Senate chamber.

“One hundred of us will come together to take over a powerful space we’ve historically been underrepresented in, the United States Senate,” Pressley said in a statement announcing the #BlackWomenLead100 initiative, an effort by Higher Heights for America, a national organization dedicated to strengthening the pipeline of black women in politics at all levels.

There are 104 women in Congress – 84 in the House and 20 in the US Senate – filling about 19 percent of the all seats, according to the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Black women represent an even smaller sliver of congressional leaders with just 18 in the House, according to the center.


Only two women of color have ever served in the US Senate: Carol Moseley Braun, an African-American Democrat from Illinois who was elected in 1992 and served until 1999, and Mazie Hirono, an Asian-American Democrat from Hawaii who was elected in 2012.

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Still, Pressley said that 70 percent of eligible black women voters participated in the last presidential election. She called it “proof, and a reminder that black women run more than our households and companies, we elect presidents. Despite our political power, we continue to be underrepresented at elected decision-making tables and within the corridors of power.”

Which brings us back to the July 12 event at the Institute’s replica of the Senate chamber. A photo will be taken of the black women invited to have a seat in what Pressley called “the visual shot heard around the world.”

Akilah Johnson can be reached at akilah.johnson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @akjohnson1922.