By Katrice L. Mines, Editor
The race for Atlanta’s 60th mayor was close. But when the dust cleared on December 5, 2017, the day of a runoff held after neither candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms or Mary Norwood received an absolute majority in the November election, Atlanta had a mayor named Keisha.
This was the popular refrain on social media signifying that not only would the City of Atlanta continue its four decade-long legacy of black leadership but that the second woman in history to helm the city was truly one of the people. Lance Bottoms is a daughter of Atlanta who, for nearly eight years, represented a large portion of the historic Southwest Atlanta community as a member of the Atlanta City Council. She is a member of the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, the Dogwood City Chapter of the Links Inc. and a member of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights — Women’s Solidarity Society. Lance Bottoms is a sister, a daughter, a mother and a mentor; and black women showed up for one of their own.
More interesting than the idea of the vote being swayed toward someone black women voters related to, however, is the notion that they used their influence to elect someone they believed best for their communities at-large.
National media honed in on the racial divide that has been a glaring factor in the last two mayoral races, both won by narrow margins. But, what is more striking is who, in these contests, where Norwood, a white independent garnering about 80 percent of the white vote, and Lance Bottoms, a black Democrat, who captured about three-quarters of the black vote, is controlling the tide. According to Professor William Boone of Clark Atlanta University, “It’s the black women’s vote that is carrying the day.”
We witnessed it in the Alabama election of Doug Jones, and so, like Boone has queried, the national conversation has turned to whether those in power will begin to cater to this demographic in attempts to maintain power. Will political candidates and operatives actively court the black female voting segment? As writer Doreen St. Félix said in a recent New Yorker piece (“How the Alabama Senate Election Sanctified Black Women Voters”), “The election of the Democrat Doug Jones to a Senate seat in the Republican stronghold of Alabama has stimulated an appraisal of the black female voter’s political power.”
And it’s clear, the value is great. AT
In this month’s special cover story about Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, we get a glimpse into what to expect from her administration. Lance Bottoms has declared her first 100 days in office, a time in which she will take measurable actions to prioritize equity, affordability, a stronger partnership with the school system, and access to transit.