Black Women Elect Doug Jones to the Alabama Senate

A narrow win for Jones, supported largely by black voter turnout, serves as an important reminder for 2018: VOTE.

12.13.17

“Everything had to break exactly right for Doug Jones to win the U.S. Senate election in deep-red Alabama, and it did,” writes The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray. “But everything also had to break the wrong way for the Republicans, and it did.”

As Moore refuses to concede to Jones and demands a recount of the votes, Democrats all over the country are celebrating. They’re celebrating Jones and the people of Alabama, and they’re celebrating black women, who once again showed up and this time clinched the win for Democrats. According to CNN reports, black constituents made up 28% of the total votes, and 96% of those went to Jones. Filter out the men and that number jumps to 98%, and stands in stark contrast to the 31% of white women who voted for Jones.

Jones’ win was said to be a long shot. Although he is a beloved attorney — best known for prosecuting members of the KKK — Alabama is a deeply red state, and his blue stances on topics like abortion, gun control and immigration don’t sit well there with the majority conservative voters. A Democrat hasn’t won a Senate seat for the state in 25 years, and the one that did switched parties and ran on the republican ticket when reelected. But Jones’ opponent last night was Roy Moore, a Republican accused by at least nine women of sexual harassment, six of whom were between the ages of 14 and 18 when the alleged misconduct took place. Before that, he was “best known for losing his judgeship over a dramatic battle” to keep a two ton monument of the 10 Commandments in the rotunda of the state supreme court, which he had installed in the middle of the night.

“A special Senate election in Alabama would normally be a snoozy affair, as far as the wider political world is concerned,” writes Gray, “But Tuesday’s voting capped a wild few months that gripped the country, as Alabama became the focus of the political and cultural conflicts in America.”

The special election was held to fill the vacancy left by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and it was unusually publicized for a few reasons: first, the fact that Moore had a fighting chance after the sexual abuse allegations came to light — and that he was even endorsed by the President — was horrifying to many, and became a talking point within the #MeToo movement. Second, the outcome of the race would impact the likelihood of Democrats taking back the Senate in 2018. (With Jones’ win, Democrats are now only one seat away from a split Senate.) Third, Alabama has a major voter suppression problem and is said to be one of the hardest states to vote in, especially for black people. So, on top of everything else, a fair race seemed far off.

As the numbers came in last night, initially showing a narrow lead for Moore, it seemed we would face another unbelievable outcome, another endorsement of our country’s willingness to protect powerful white men at unforgivable costs. But as the night wore on, the numbers began to shift back in favor of Jones. Pollsters were surprised; a reported 34% of the electorate turned up to vote — 9% more than the estimated turnout.

“These results demolish the pre-established media narrative about black voters in the state, and defy conventional wisdom,” reports Vann R. Newkirk II for The Atlantic. “Black voters were informed and mobilized to go vote, and did so even in the face of significant barriers.” (Here’s one personal account of how insidious the voter suppression can be in Alabama.)

I don’t know what your feeds look like, but mine are filled with tears and cheers of gratitude to black women for delivering this kernel of hope after a depressing, disenfranchising year. But black women have always been at the forefront of resistance, and spoken gratitude pales in comparison to meaningful support for black communities and black women, something America continues to fail at on a broader level.

“[I]t was the grassroots, on-the-ground efforts of Jones’s African-American supporters that helped bring black voters to the ballot box on Tuesday and push Jones across the finish line,” Symone D. Sanders, a Democratic strategist, told Newsweek. “But if Democrats want to carry their 2017 successes into the 2018 midterms, they can’t count on black women alone to carry the party… Black women have been attempting to save America since the dawn of time. That doesn’t mean we should allow the fate of America to be laid at the feet of black women—it has to be a multicultural effort.”

So, here is a list of 28 organizations compiled by Zahara Hill, HuffPost Black Voices editorial fellow, that empower black communities; if you can, donate your time or money. Jones’ win is also an important reminder that anyone can win an election — even unexpected candidates by small margins. Here are some resources to keep up this momentum:

Register to vote here.
Find out your state election dates and deadlines here.
Learn more about candidates here or here.
Join the 50-state-canvass here.

Where do you live, and how did you feel when you found out Jones won? Tell me below, and if you have any other resources to include, the comment section is yours.

Feature image by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images.

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