This year’s packed schedule of Democratic presidential town halls and debates will feature something different: a forum specifically designed to make candidates answer to women of color.
On April 24, much of the 2020 Democratic field will convene in Houston for a forum convened by She the People, a political organization founded to help center women of color in the political process. Democratic candidates who have officially declared were invited to attend, and Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), former Housing secretary Julián Castro (Tex.), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), and former congressman Beto O’Rourke (Tex.) will participate. It will take place at Texas Southern University, a public, historically black university.
As the 2020 election gets underway, women of color within the Democratic Party want to make sure it “boldly lives up to its values,” as Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) demanded of a group of party figures in December. This cycle’s crop of presidential contenders have gone out of their way to acknowledge issues facing African Americans and other minority groups in their speeches, appearances and policy rollouts, and their votes are seen as critical. But ahead of 2020, many women of color want to ensure that sentiment translates into genuine policies, aggressive voter outreach and diverse hiring from Democratic campaigns.
Aimee Allison, who launched She the People in 2018 and organized the forum, said one of her main goals is “to change political considerations of presidential campaigns.”
“We want to change the dynamic that women of color had been taken for granted for decades,” she told The Washington Post. “Savvy campaigns understand the role of women of color . . . those are the ones that are positioned to be successful. They are campaigning directly to the most loyal Democrats."