IS POLITICS WORKING FOR BLACKS? Blacks have made gains in U.S. political leadership, but gaps remain

(Photo: Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., and other freshman House members leave Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Capitol office on Jan. 15. As of this year, 52 House members are black, up from just six in 1965. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BY ANNA BROWN AND SARA ATSKE

(WASHINGTON – April 23, 2019) – Ten years ago, Barack Obama took office as the first black president of the United States – a proud moment for many Americans. Obama’s election represented another advance in the slow but steady progress blacks have made in recent decades in gaining a greater foothold in political leadership, particularly in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Cabinets of recent presidents. But they have lagged in the Senate and in governorships.

Many blacks view political representation as a potential catalyst for increased racial equality, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey. Roughly four-in-ten black adults (38%) said that working to get more black people elected to office would be a very effective tactic for groups striving to help blacks achieve equality. Whites were less likely to view this as an effective way to bring about increased racial equality (24% said it would be very effective). READ IN FULL

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