Black Women in Elective Office

For more information on CAWP’s historic and current collection of race/ethnicity data, please see our methodological statement. For more information on historical milestones in women’s political representation, please see CAWP’s “Milestones for Women in American Politics.”

Women who self-identify as more than one race/ethnicity are included on CAWP pages for each group with which they identify. We strongly caution against adding totals from each racial/ethnic group should, as it will double count officeholders. To conduct more detailed calculations, users should refer to CAWP’s Women Elected Officials Database or contact CAWP staff directly.

Black women are 7.7% of the total U.S. population and 15.3% of the U.S. population of women, according to the U.S. Census. Using these data to compare to percentages reported on this page should account for differences between U.S. Census and CAWP categorizations.

Federal Elective Executive

Current Officeholders
1
(1D)

Kamala Harris (D) became the first woman to hold the office of Vice President on January 20, 2021. She is also the first Black person and the first South Asian person elected to this office.

Historic Officeholders
1
1(D)

Kamala Harris (D) is the only woman, and more specifically the only Black and South Asian woman, who has held federal elective executive office. She has served as Vice President from January 20, 2021 to present.

Current Congress
26
(26D)

4.9% of all voting members of Congress identify as Black women.

17.8% of all women voting members of Congress identify as Black.

 

U.S. Senate
0
U.S. House
26
(26D)
U.S. Delegate
2
(2D)

U.S. Delegates are non-voting members and are not included in our total counts.

Historic Congresswomen
49
(48D, 1R)

0.4% of all members of Congress to date have identified as Black women.

12.6% of all women who have served in Congress to date have identified as Black.

U.S. Senate
2
(2D)
U.S. House
47
(46D, 1R)
U.S. Delegate
3
(3D)

U.S. Delegates are non-voting members and are not included in our total counts.

Notable Firsts/Facts

  • Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) was the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to 1983. 
  • Mia Love (R-UT) was the first Republican Black woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2015 to 2019. No other Black Republican woman has served in Congress.
Current Statewide Elective Executive
8
(7D, 1R)

2.6% of all statewide elective executives identify as Black women.

8.3% of all women statewide elective executives identify as Black.

Governor
0

No Black woman has ever served as governor.

Historic Statewide Elective Executive
19
(14D, 5R)

3.3% of all women statewide elective executives to date have identified as Black.

Governor
0

No Black woman has ever served as governor.

Notable Firsts/Facts

  • Vel R. Phillips (D-WI) was the first Black woman to serve in statewide elective executive office, serving as Wisconsin’s Secretary of State from 1979 to 1983. 
  • Vikki Buckley (R-CO) was the first Republican Black woman to serve in statewide elective executive office, serving as Colorado’s Secretary of State from 1995 to 1999.
  • No Black woman has ever served as governor in the U.S.
Current State Legislature
368
(365D, 3R)

5.0% of all state legislators identify as Black women.

16.1% of all women state legislators identify as Black.

State Senate
84
(83D, 1R)
State House/Assembly
284
(282D, 2R)

Notable Firsts/Facts

  • Minnie Buckingham Harper (R-WV) was the first Black woman to serve in state legislative office. She was appointed to West Virginia House of Delegates in 1928 to fill the vacancy left by the death of her husband, but she did not seek election to another term.
  • Crystal Dreda Bird Fauset (D-PA) was the first Black woman elected to serve in state legislative office, serving in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives from 1939 to 1940.
  • Karen Bass (D-CA) was the first Black woman to lead either chamber of a state legislature; she served as California’s Speaker of the House from 2008 to 2010.

Mayors – Top 100 Most Populous Cities

Current Mayors
7
(7D)

7% of all mayors in top 100 most populous cities identify as Black women.

23.3% of all women mayors in top 100 most populous cities identify as Black.

Historic Mayors
21
(21D)
Name Party City, State Years Served
Elaine O'Neal* D Durham, NC 2021-present
Tishaura Jones* D St. Louis. MO 2021-present
Kim Janey, acting* D Boston, MA 2021-2021
Lori Lightfoot* D Chicago, IL 2019-present
London Breed* D San Francisco, CA 2017-2018 (acting), 2018-present
LaToya Cantrell* D New Orleans, LA 2018-present
Keisha Lance Bottoms* D Atlanta, GA 2018-2021
Vi Alexander Lyles D Charlotte, NC 2017-present
Sharon Weston Broome D Baton Rogue, LA 2017-present**
Catherine Pugh D Baltimore, MD 2016-2019
Ivy Taylor* D San Antonio, TX 2014-2017
Paula Hicks Hudson* D Toledo, OH 2015-2018
Muriel Bowser D Washington, D.C. 2015-present
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake D Baltimore, MD 2010-2016
Yvonne Johnson* D Greensboro, MD 2008-2010
Sheila Dixon D Baltimore, MD 2007-2010
Shirley Franklin* D Atlanta, GA 2001-2009
Sharon Sayles Belton* D Minneapolis, MN 1994-2001
Sharon Pratt Kelly D Washington, D.C. 1991-1995
Carrie Saxon Perry  D Hartford, CT 1987-1993
Lottie Shackleford* D Little Rock, AR 1987-1991

*Elected in nonpartisan races.
**Sharon Weston Broome is still serving but Baton Rouge is no longer in the top 100 most populated cities according to the 2019 U.S. Census data.