The Time for a Black Woman Vice President has Come

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[2020 Election\Black Women]
Pugh: The Black women who have been named as possible picks have invaluable lived experiences in addition to impeccable careers...it is hard to imagine how a Biden ticket without a Black woman on the ticket as Vice President will get over the finish line."
Photo: Twitter

Can Joe Biden get over the finish line an win the upcoming election without picking a Black woman as his running mate?

As a Michigan statewide elected official, I stand united with Black women and others from across this country who demand presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, select a Black woman as his running mate.

The Black women who have been named as possible picks have invaluable lived experiences in addition to impeccable careers. This country deserves a Vice President who is ready, on day one, to stand up for all people and help to move America out of this place of health, economic, and racial crisis—Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has not been vetted in the way others considered for the position have nor does she compare in qualifications.

Governor Whitmer has often reneged on campaign promises. Here in Michigan, our communities have had to exhaust great energy and resources to convince her to do what’s just and right even though Black voters decisively carried over the finish line to get her elected. While the country has come to know Whitmer for her response to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us here have witnessed her as governor who has often chosen political expediency over the campaign promises she made as a candidate. Now, is not the time for unvetted and unready vice-presidential potentials.

Benton Harbor, Michigan residents, living in one of our countries most economically segregated communities, had to fight against her shuttering its mostly Black school district’s only high school and attempt to bus the children to neighboring White schools. It was only after the office of Democratic Attorney General, Dana Nessel, issued an opinion that she did not have authority to close Benton Harbor’s only high schools that she halted the closure and began working with the district.

In Detroit, MI, Governor Whitmer, shockingly, sidestepped statements she made as a candidate in support of equitable education and petitioned to dismiss a class-action lawsuit filed by seven Detroit student plaintiffs seeking a basic right to literacy, classrooms with books and teachers and school buildings with no heat in winter or air conditioning in summer. In April, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a landmark decision ruling in favor of the student plaintiffs that “an education that at least guarantees a basic right to literacy is a fundamental right”. Governor Whitmer did not agree to settle the case until after great pressure from Black leaders and education activists was applied.

Governor Whitmer has not fulfilled promises made to the residents of Flint, MI, a community that had their water poisoned and water infrastructure destroyed by its government. As a candidate, she announced that she and the state would restore bottled water that former Governor Snyder had cut off towards the end of his term until the water pipes were replaced. She vowed to reinstate a board that was intended to bring about transparency as decisions were made related to Flint’s recovery. However, Flint residents, over a year later, are yet awaiting the urgency and fulfillment of the promises she made as a candidate to fight for them to have clean and affordable water, access to alternate water until the pipes are replaced, and to hold accountable those responsible for the poisoning and death of residents.

During this pivotal and historic time in which we find ourselves, I am reminded of our Black sisters, those Black woman suffragists who fought for the voting rights of others while yet being sidelined by the movement itself and long excluded from its benefits. I am reminded of the countless African-American women who for over 400 years have been the frontline workers, or caregivers for frontline workers, building this country. I am reminded of strong and wise Black women, like my mother and her grandmother, who served with great dignity and pride as the help for White women, helping them raise their children and keep their households in order. I am hopeful that the Democratic party is reminded of our sisters who have long served as advisors, speechwriters, interpreters -- still the cleanup, or the help, for so many great men and women who have led and currently lead this nation.

We should all be reminded that in 2016, with 94 percent of Black women voting for Hillary Clinton and 53 percent of White women voting for Donald Trump, we were the Democrats strongest voting bloc. While a seat on the Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s office sounds appealing, it is hard to imagine how a Biden ticket without a Black woman on the ticket as Vice President will get over the finish line to have the opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court Justice or Attorney General. Know that the world, younger generations, and women, in general, are watching to see if Joe Biden and the Democratic Party are ready to move Black women from “the help” to second in command of this great nation.

A Biden ticket must be inclusive of a Black woman Vice Presidential running mate.

Pamela Pugh, DrPH, M.S., B.S. is vice president of the Michigan State Board of Education and former Chief Public Health Advisor for the City of Flint., She is a delegate for the upcoming Democratic National Convention. Dr. Pugh has over 23 years of experience in the field of public health. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from Florida A&M University and both a Master of Science and Doctor of Public Health degree in Environmental Health Sciences from University of Michigan School of Public Health

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