Overlooking the past few decades, the United States’ population has changed noticeably. The ever-expanding Asian and Latino populations (mostly caused by the influx of immigration) have changed the breakdown and structure of the electorate. Similarly, the United States’ elected officials are changing as well. More recently, there have been gains in terms of the number of political offices held by women have been propelled forward by the accomplishments of candidates that are women of color. In the formation and beginnings of political parties of the United States, there were only white males that represented the entirety of the citizens of the country. However, as time progressed, there has been more representation of other groups as well as genders holding public office. Even with the progression throughout U.S. history, challenges still exist for women candidates, especially those of color, to be granted the opportunity to serve in a public office with respect to their share of the population. The women of color today signify a record high number of women of color in public office.
Black women make up majority of women of color serving in a public office. As of a survey of the national legislature in 2012, 24 women of color serve in Congress, 11 in statewide elected executive offices and 350 in state legislative offices throughout the nation. Their proportion of representation has significantly increased since the Voting Rights Act its passing in 1965. The women of color holding public office today are a byproduct of the women of color that came before them and made tremendous strides. Perhaps one of the most well known of them was Mrs. Shirley Chisholm. This native of Brooklyn, NY was the first African American elected to the United States Congress (1968), where she worked in the Education and Labor Committee. Chisholm made strides for both women and people of color; she supported women’s right to an abortion, supported women professionals (especially in male dominated fields), and helped form the Congressional Black Caucus.
After just four short years in Congress, Chisholm would seek the Democratic nomination for the 1972 Presidential election, thereby becoming both the first African American and woman to run for the presidential nomination or a major political party. Another Black woman that is important to make mention of is Carol Moseley Braun, a Chicago native and University of Illinois College of Law graduate. More important than where she hailed from or where she got her degree from was what she did; she had the opportunity to serve as an Illinois State Representative, women’s rights activist, civil rights activist, and became the first Black woman elected as a United States Senator. While serving as a Democratic US Representative, she advocated for education, government, and healthcare. After Shirley Chisholm, Braun became the second Black woman to run for the office of the Presidency. Unfortunately, she was met with unsuccessful attempts in 2000 & 2004.
Recognizing that the black women that are public office now are not the first, it is also important to acknowledge that the women who blazed a trail for them encountered their fair share of adversity. The trail that women of color take to public office and the challenges they face as candidates are different from those of white women. For example, legislators that are women of color are usually elected from majority-minority districts (congressional district in which majority of the residing constituents are a racial or ethnic minority). These districts were in response to racially/ethnically heavy voting patterns and the ability for voters of color to select candidates that they identify with. Forming these districts propels the progress that Black women have made in being elected into office. Realistically, these majority-minority districts by themselves cannot increase the number of public offices held by black women in the future. Women of color make u about 3.5% of the statewide elected officials, and there is a slim chance of drawing more districts.
In conclusion, I would argue that it is important for women of color to be represented in the political and public offices. In order to uphold the precedent of our U.S. Constitution, we have to strive toward a more perfect union. Part of that is having a representative sample of the governed within the government. We can see how over time women have made significant strides within communities locally and nationally; we even have a women poised to be President of the United States. Nevertheless, having more women of color in the spaces and places of decision making will be crucial for the advancement of both the communities they represent and America overall.
 “Women of Color in American Politics.” PoliticalParity.org. Political Parity. Web. 17 Oct. 2016. <http://www.politicalparity.org/research-inventory/women-of-color-in-american-politics/>.
 “Shirley Chisholm.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2016. < http://www.biography.com/people/shirley-chisholm-9247015.>.
 “Carol Moseley Braun.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2016. <http://www.biography.com/people/carol-moseley-braun-205626#post-senate-work>.