March 15, 2021

New State-By-State Report Shows Dramatic Underrepresentation of Black Women in Legislatures Across the Country

Denver, Colorado — No Democracy Without Black Women, a report released by the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) and NOBEL Women shows a dramatic underrepresentation of Black women in state legislatures across the country.

The disproportional lack of representation has serious implications at the state level for policy development and implementation. State legislatures are the critical front lines of the policy battles on issues ranging from reproductive justice, education, workers’ rights, health care, food and agriculture, criminal justice, democracy and voting rights, and everything in between. The people who most intimately know the true impacts of structural racism and sexism—Black women—know best how to dismantle those systems and move to a just and equitable democracy and society.

“Lasting progressive change must begin with removing the barriers of entry for Black women,” said Lauren Bealore, SiX Democracy Director. “Only with Black women in significant seats of power and at every table where decisions are being made can our nation truly recover from the racist and sexist structures that hold all our society back and build toward a more prosperous future for all, not just the wealthy few.” 


  • Black women hold just 4.82% of state legislative seats 
  • The states with the greatest number of Black women in the legislature: 
    • Georgia with 39 women 
    • Maryland with 28 women 
    • New York with 23 women 
  • These eight states have no Black women serving in the legislature, despite the Black population ranging from 2-6% of each state’s population:
    • Vermont
    • South Dakota
    • Hawaii
    • Arizona
    • Idaho
    • Nebraska
    • Montana
    • North Dakota
  • States where Black women are most underrepresented relative to their proportion of the population: 
    • Mississippi: Black women make up approximately 19.36% of the population but just 7.47% of the legislature
    • Louisiana: Black women make up approximately 16.82% of the population but just 5.55% of the legislature
    • South Carolina: Black women make up approximately 13.36% of the population but just 7.65% of the legislature
    • Tennessee: Black women make up approximately 8.64% of the population but just 4.55% of the legislature
    • Connecticut: Black women make up approximately 6.3% of the population but just 3.21% of the legislature

“Black women have earned a seat at the table, the right to lead the table, and to set the table. Only then will Black women begin to see radical returns on our social, financial, and political investments,” said Krystal Leaphart, NOBEL Women Operations and Policy Associate.

Reach out to be connected with Lauren Bealore, Krystal Leaphart, or any number of Black women legislators. 

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