It can’t be said enough: Black women are the drivers of American democracy. With their votes, commitment to organizing, and collective political will, they have time and again helped our country correct course — notably in 2020, when 93% of Black women voted for Joe Biden over Donald Trump, helping secure key swing states like Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. But this work has not yet been rewarded or repaid in full.
A group so deeply civically engaged should also be richly represented in leadership up and down the ballot, but we are still far from parity. The absence of Black women from the Senate, governors’ mansions, and other key positions of power inform Higher Heights’ mission of expanding the leadership pipeline for these women. In 2022, they enforced their strategy of uplifting Black women in races across the country and shining a spotlight on their contributions, even for races they weren’t likely to win. What mattered most was the historic significance of putting our country’s most diligent and informed voters up for consideration as actual leaders.
Higher Heights partnered with Do Big Things to create videos spotlighting Black women candidates in races at every level across the country, especially in Southern and Midwestern states: Cheri Beasley (U.S. Senate, NC), Odessa Kelly (TN-7), Val Demings (U.S. Senate, FL), Deidre DeJear (governor, IA), Jackie Gordon (NY-2), Emilia Sykes (winner, OH-13), and Letitia “Tish” James (re-elected as NY Attorney General).
These fearless candidates were featured in a series that emphasized the transformative nature of these candidacies, called She’s Got Next. The title borrows from the culture of basketball to evoke Black women finally jumping in to shoot their shot, to claim their piece of the court and their place in the game. We also created voting-focused videos about registration and making a plan to vote.
The staff at DBT, a certified minority-owned business founded by a Black woman, brought lived experience to the conceptualization and creation of the videos: the experience of code-switching, of constantly assessing how much Blackness to reveal or conceal in any given situation depending on the environment and the prevalence of the white gaze (an experience we also took into account in our days working for Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, who represents a majority-white district in Illinois and is endorsed by Higher Heights).
As well, DBT prioritized making the videos recognizable, relatable, and celebratory for all Black women regardless of background or income, pulling from recent TikTok trends such as “Black women womening.” The videos blended cultural competency with our team’s skills in video storytelling to create captivating, memorable assets that highlighted a core fact: Black women not only run our democracy at the ballot box, but they’re also running to lead it in the halls of power.