25 Black Candidates Chasing History On Election Day


Election day is upon us and history will be made. With a record high voter turnout, dozens of Black candidates are looking to break barriers at the local, state and federal levels. From congressmen in South Carolina to potential lawmakers in North Dakota, candidates will take seats that have never been held by Black Americans before.

Dorothy "Dot" Benford

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Mississippi

Dorothy "Dot" Benford is a lifelong community activist in the Jackson, Mississippi area. After contributing to efforts during the Civil Rights Movement, she is now looking to continue her lifelong service on Capitol Hill. If elected, she would become the first Black woman to represent the state of Mississippi in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Charlotte Bergmann

Party: Republican

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Tennessee

Charlotte Bergman is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. She earned an associate's degree from State Technical Institute at Memphis in 1986 before moving on to receive a bachelor's degree from Christian Brothers University in 1992. After graduating from college and working for FedEx, Bergmann moved to Washington, D.C. where she ran her own business. In 2018, she was named "Statesman of the Year" by the Tennessee Republican Party. She is now running for congress as a far-right candidate with the support of President Donald Trump. If elected, she would be the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress and U.S. House from Tennessee.

Marquita Bradshaw

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Senator for the state of Tennessee

Marquita Bradshaw is a Tennessean by heart. Growing up in south Memphis, Bradshaw earned a degree from the University of Memphis Since then, she has worked with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, African American Environmental Justice Network and many other community based organizations. On November 3, she will look to become the third Black woman to ever serve in the U.S. Senate.

Cori Bush

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Representative from the state of Missouri

Cori Bush is an upstart candidate out of the greater St. Louis area. Bush is a mother, nurse, pastor and activist in the Ferguson, Missouri area. If elected to congress, she would be the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress and U.S. House from Missouri.

Mary Ann Claytor

Party: Democrat

Position: Auditor for the state of West Virginia

Mary Ann Claytor is running a grassroots campaign in the state of West Virginia. With over 20 years of auditing experience, Claytor believes she has the necessary experience to get the job done. If elected as the West Virginia state auditor, she would become the first Black woman to serve in a statewide elected executive office in West Virginia.

Joyce Elliott

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Arkansas

Joyce Elliott is a life long Arkansas. She grew up in a small town called Willisville before earning degrees from Southern Arkansas University and Ouachita Baptist University. After graduation, she worked as a teacher until 2001. From 2001 until 2007, she worked as a state representative in her home state of Arkansas. Now, she is seeking to become the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress and U.S. House from Arkansas.

Mike Espy

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Senator for the state of Mississippi

Mike Espy is a man of many interests, names and talents. He is both a father and a grandfather. He has earned a black belt in tae kwon do and he has worked as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Now, he is looking to become the first Black U.S. Senator from Mississippi in over 100 years.

Vennia Francois

Party: Republican

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Florida

Vennia Francois is running against established congresswoman Val Demings on November 3. The congressional candidate has created a career in law and policy for herself by earning degrees from the University of Florida, Lee University and Florida A&M. More recently, she has worked for The Maher Law Firm in central Florida and joined the Minority & Women’s Business Enterprise Committee.

Jaime Harrison

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Senator for the state of South Carolina

Jaime Harrison is one of the can't miss candidates on Election Day. Harrison is a vocal, outspoken former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party. After years of working at the state level, Harrison is looking to go national. If elected, he would be the first Black Democrat to represent South Carolina in the U.S. Senate.

Jessica Holmes

Party: Democrat

Position: Labor Commissioner for the state of North Carolina

Jessica Holmes is a North Carolina Tarheel to the core. Having earned two degrees from UNC, Holmes has dedicate her life to workers’ rights advocacy, policy, and social justice causes. Six years ago, Holmes became the youngest commissioner ever elected in Wake County, North Carolina. Now, she is looking to become the first Black woman to serve in a statewide elected executive office in North Carolina.

Michelle De La Isla

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Kansas

Michelle De La Isla is a rising political star in the state of Kansas. For five years, she served on the Topeka City Council before becoming mayor. Now, she's looking to take the next step.

“Michelle De La Isla has shown terrific leadership in Topeka. Her commitment to working across the aisle has been the driving force behind her management during this unprecedented health crisis. Congress needs more mayors like Michelle, and her proven track record of problem-solving and finding solutions for her constituents," Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said.

If elected, De La Isla would be the first Afro-Latina to serve in the U.S. Congress and U.S. House from Kansas.

John James

Party: Republican

Position: U.S. Senator for the state of Michigan

John James is a fast rising U.S. Senate candidate within the Republican Party. James has described himself as a moderate willing to work with both sides of the aisle. However, he has been linked to far-right Donald Trump rallies in Michigan this year. If elected, he would be the first Black man to represent Michigan in the U.S. Senate.

Danyell Lanier

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Oklahoma

Danyell Lanier is a veteran and citizen of the Cherokee Nation. After graduating from Hugo High School in Oklahoma, she enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Before being honorably discharged in 1999, she was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Medal, Navy E Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. Continuing to serve the country, Lanier is now looking the become the first Black woman and first Native American woman to serve in the U.S. Congress and U.S. House from Oklahoma.

Yvonne Lewis Holley

Party: Democrat

Position: Lieutenant Governor for the state of North Carolina

Yvonne Lewis Holley is a Raleigh native and graduate of Howard University. Holley has spent much of her career working in television and state legislature. Looking to take her work to the state capital, Holley is hoping to become the first Black woman to serve in statewide elected executive office in North Carolina.

Travisia Martin

Party: Democrat

Position: Insurance Commissioner for the state of North Dakota

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin's line of work has come in need now more than ever. Martin has spent four decades working in respiratory care and now she's looking to become the Insurance Commissioner for the state of North Dakota. If elected, she would be the first Black woman and first Native American woman to serve in a statewide elected executive office in North Dakota.

Adrian Perkins

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Senator for the state of Louisiana

Adrian Perkins is a young, accomplished politician emerging out of the state of Louisiana. Perkins is a 35-year-old veteran and graduate of Harvard Law School. In 2018, he became the second youngest mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana. Now, he's looking to take his talents to Washington, D.C. If elected, he would be the first Black man to represent the state of Louisiana since 1921.

Gena Ross

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Missouri

Gena Ross is a Minneapolis native and former college professor. As a congressional candidate, Rossi is seeking to become the first woman of color and first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress and U.S. House from Missouri.

Susan Smith

Party: Republican

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Indiana

Susan Marie Smith is a graduate of Ball State University and Fordham Law School. During her career, she has worked as a criminal justice professor and attorney. She has also worked alongside the Columbia Citizen and Police Review Board, the Greater Indianapolis Republican Women's Club, the National Federation of Republican Women and the Warren Township Republican Club.

Carla Spalding

Party: Republican

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Florida

Carla Spalding is a first-generation American immigrant who grew up in Broward County. After serving in the Navy and working as a college professor, Spalding is transitioning into politics. If elected, she would be the first Black Republican woman to represent Florida in the U.S. Congress and U.S. House.

Lavern Spicer

Party: Republican

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Florida

Lavern Spicer is a longtime Miami resident. Spicer is a local business owner who operates her own food bank. After living in Florida for nearly 40 years, she is running for Congress. If elected, she would become the first Black Republican woman to represent Florida in the U.S. Congress and U.S. House.

Marilyn Strickland

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Washington

Marilyn Strickland is the mayor of Tacoma, Washington and now she is looking to run for congress. If elected, she would be the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress and U.S. House from Washington.

Kimberly Walker

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Florida

Kimberly Walker is jack of all trades. The Florida resident is a former software engineer and correctional officer looking to enter into a new phase of her life. If elected, she would be the first openly LGBTQ person to serve in the U.S. Congress from Florida.

Raphael Warnock

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Senator for the state of Georgia

Raphael Warnock is one the rising stars of the Democratic Party. The Ebenezer Baptist Church Senior Pastor is challenging the controversial WNBA owner Kelly Loeffler for a seat in the U.S. Senate. If elected, Warnock would be the first Black man to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate.

Melissa Watson

Party: Democrat

Position: U.S. Representative for the state of Melissa Watson

Melissa Watson is a graduate of the Citadel and the College of Charleston. After working within the South Carolina Democratic Party, she hopes to restore "common sense and middle class values" in Congress. If elected, she would be the first Black woman to serve in the U.S Congress and U.S. House from South Carolina.

Photo: Getty Images


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