SAN FRANCISCO ― About 500 people gathered for the inaugural She the People summit in San Francisco on Thursday, which organizers dubbed the “first-ever national women of color in politics summit.”
The event comes in a year of unprecedented wins for women of color running for office — a fact not lost among the attendees, women of all ages from 36 states across the country.
The group gathered to discuss the power of women of color to change American politics, particularly in the 2018 midterm elections.
Prominent organizers Linda Sarsour and Dolores Huerta took to the stage, along with barrier-breaking candidates like Rashida Tlaib ― set to be one of the nation’s first Muslim congresswomen ― and Deb Haaland ― likely to be one of the first Native women in Congress.
“Alexandria, Ilhan, Ayanna. I love these names!” Tlaib said as a roomful of women cheered, referring to congressional candidates ― and likely history makers ― Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, Ilhan Omar in Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts.
“Yes, you’re going to have to learn how to say our names,” Tlaib said, to laughs and applause.
With the primaries for the midterm elections now over, 2018 promises to be a historic year for representation in political office. More women won House and Senate primaries this year than ever before. Christine Hallquist in Vermont could be the nation’s first openly transgender governor. And a number of women of color candidates, if they prevail in November, are set to shake up the makeup of the country’s overwhelmingly white and male governors and members of Congress. Stacey Abrams in Georgia, for instance, could become the first black female governor in the U.S.
Speakers at the summit emphasized the need for people to turn out to vote and back female candidates of color ― and for more women of color to run for office.
“Look at this room. Isn’t it amazing? Amazing women leaders are what we need to push us forward,” Haaland said. She mentioned her background as a single mother who worked minimum wage jobs and used food stamps while raising her “beautiful queer daughter.” “We need more people [in office] who understand struggle and know what it means to be fierce in the face of difficulty.”