Black or Woman: Who Has Better Chance to Be the Next President of USA
President: Black or Woman?
The next year is pegged to be one of the most interesting in the history of American politics. One of the most compelling facets of this next election race is the almost inevitable run-off election between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democrat’s presidential bid. There’s no doubt that it’s exciting to finally see some diversity in presidential politics, in this case between a black man and a woman. But what is also riveting about this election is that we could also see a change in American politics at a very base level. Because if Hillary Clinton wins, it will change the pattern established for 150 years in American politics: that black men have always succeeded in politics before women.
Yes, you read that right. Black men were granted the right to vote more than fifty years before women of any race were afforded that right. The 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution gave black men the right to vote in 1870, although blacks continued to fight to exercise that right in many parts of the United States until well into the 1960’s, predominately in the southern states. Women fought for the right to vote until 1when the 19th Amendment to the constitution became law and guaranteed that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any States on Account of sex”.
Regardless of later struggles (the successful Civil Rights Act and the unsuccessful Equal Rights Amendment), black men had the right to vote throughout the US for more than fifty years before women of any race were afforded that right. This alone is perhaps an indication of the strength of the patriarchal and male dominant sector of the American public that believes, consciously or unconsciously, in the superiority of men over women. It would appear that this sector is even stronger although perhaps less vocal, than the racially prejudiced sector of the American public.
Both of these misguided ways of thinking are prejudices that should have been completely eradicated by now. But unfortunately, these are historical facts that can be supported by even further evidence that shows that black men have succeeded in American politics before women.
The first black man was elected to the Senate 62 years before the first woman. The first black senator (male or female) was Hiram R. Revels, a Republican man from Mississippi, who was elected to office in 1870. Rebecca Felton of Georgia, often cited as the first female US senator, was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill a temporary vacancy in 1922 and served only two days. But even Ms. Felton’s temporary appointment comes 52 years after the election of a black man to the same position.
The pattern continues in the House of Representatives. In 1916 Jeannette Rankin was elected to the House of Representatives as a Republican from Montana, becoming the first female member of Congress. This was quite remarkable at the time, considering that the Nineteenth Amendment which gave women the right to vote wasn't ratified until 1920. Therefore, during Rankin's first term in Congress (1917-1919), women throughout the country did not even have the federal right to vote. Conversely, Joseph Hayne Rainey was the first black man to serve in the House of Representatives. A former slave, he served from 1870 to 1879 and was elected a full 46 years before Rankin was elected as the first US congresswoman.
Based on these facts, it would seem that the American public has been more accepting of a male leader of any race than it has been of a woman leader, and following that line of thinking the American public is more likely to choose Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. Because by history’s account, it would be not only a milestone for a woman to become President, it would also be unlikely for her to do so before a black man.