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Well, we did it again!

Who is the “we?” Black women!
What is the “it?” Coming to humanity’s rescue.

Last week in Alabama, black women showed up en masse at the polls to vote to ensure that an alleged pedophile, declared racist (he thought blacks were better off under slavery), and distorter of Christianity (he believes God is going to give him the electoral victory) was defeated. Judge Roy Moore was the country’s worst nightmare. He was unseated from federal judgeships twice. He regularly defied court orders and had no sense of equality and justice for people who weren’t just like him. He thinks it is wrong for a Muslim to be seated in the United States Congress.

Having Roy Moore in the Senate would have meant that his brand of Alt-Right conservatism would be endorsed once again at the height of our government. The current occupant of the White House stumped for him. He made robo-calls for him. He dismissed the mountain of evidence that alleged this man had assaulted and harassed teenaged girls when he was an officer of the court and in his 30s.

This potential catastrophe was stopped by none other than who else … black women. Black women voted for Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones, at a rate of 98 percent. (Black men supported Jones at a rate of 93 percent). But, it was not just their election day participation that made this Alabama miracle happen. No, black women were out pounding the pavement and knocking on doors to rally the community to vote to “Make America Gracious Again.” DeJuana Thompson, a community activist shared what some of us knew all along— “When Black women show up for their community, every community is empowered.”

Thompson founded a program titled “Woke Vote” as a way to reach millennials and during this campaign she traveled the state going to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and black churches to remind black folks how important it is to vote. Thompson knew that if she could motivate black women she could turn this election.

The “Alabama miracle” is characteristic of the work black women have always done in this society. Black women transported us out of slavery (Harriet Tubman). Black women spoke up for our right to be seen as women (Sojourner Truth). Black women broadcast the lynching of our men and women throughout the world (Ida B. Wells). Black women educated us (Anna Julia Cooper). Black women sparked the Civil Rights Movement (Rosa Parks). Black women were leaders in that Movement (Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker). Black women protected our children when they had to go through hate-filled crowds to enter a school (Daisy Bates). Black women held their heads up in dignity when they were not allowed to entertain in so-called all-white venues (Marian Anderson). Black women have patiently waited their turn to be acknowledged for their artistic excellence (Halle Berry, Viola Davis) and black women have moved into “non-traditional” sports to show the world they can do anything (Serena and Venus Williams, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Simone Manuel).

Black people have always known that black women hold up the world. Now the world knows they do. They exhibit moral courage in times of challenge. In the 2016 election, black women made the practical choice. Despite not being overwhelming excited about Hillary Clinton, they knew that Donald Trump would be a disaster and they were right. So black women voted for Hillary Clinton at a rate of 96 percent while white women voted for Donald Trump at a rate of 53 percent. Black women ride hard for any cause that will better humanity — women, men of color, children, seniors, immigrants, etc. But when it comes to black women’s issues, no one else rides for them.

That’s okay … we will keep holding up the world and the rest of the world better hope we don’t put our arms down!

Written by Gloria Ladson-Billings

Gloria Ladson-Billings

Gloria Ladson-Billings is the Kellner Family Chair in Urban Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Educational Policy Studies for the University of Wisconsin.

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