Posted on April 26, 2016

A Black Woman in the Senate: ‘When She Sits There, We All Sit There.’

Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, April 11, 2016

The Democratic primary for Maryland’s open Senate seat has gotten hotter than a steaming tray of Chesapeake blue crabs. And what’s at stake is about much more than the people of Maryland.

The race pits an outspoken­ ­­57-­year-old African American woman, Rep. Donna F. Edwards, against a progressive 57-year-old white man, Rep. Chris Van Hollen. It raises issues of parity and equality, and the very nature of American legislative representation. It’s about race and gender in American politics. {snip}


And if Edwards wins the Democratic nomination April 26–and then the Senate seat in November (almost a given in deep-blue Maryland)–she’d make history as only the second African American woman to serve in the chamber.

Why is this so important?

“When she sits there, we all sit there,” declared Betsy Simon, 76, right after she met Edwards at the Neighborhoods United annual banquet in West Baltimore on Sunday.

“She has lived her life; it’s like our lives,” Simon said. “And she knows what we need.”

Indeed, the underrepresentation of women in government, especially women of color, is a national disgrace.


How could a group of mostly white men accurately reflect our nation? Except for Carol Moseley Braun, who served a single term in the 1990s, no African American woman has served in the Senate for 227 years.