Black Women Amplify Call: Replace Sen. Harris With Rep. Bass or Rep. Lee

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Kolieka Seigle, ShayFranco-Clausen, Betty Williams, Kendra Lewis and Jamilia Land

Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ ‌|‌ ‌California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

Black women across California, with the support of others around the country, revved up their campaign urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to replace outgoing California Sen. Kamala Harris with another Black woman. A day after the Electoral College solidified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump, Black women leaders, civic and political, held two “Keep the Seat” rallies in California – one held on the grounds of the State Capital in Sacramento and the other at the Ronald Reagan Building in Los Angeles.

“We are here in Sacramento and Los Angeles as well, standing up and urging in person because that’s how critical this is,” said one of the speakers, the Hon. Shay Franco-Clausen, California Democratic Party Black Caucus’s (CDP Black Caucus) corresponding Secretary and the Silicon Valley Chapter lead for Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA). “This is when the world relies on the Black woman to hold up democracy and we’ve delivered democratic victories every single election cycle. But when it comes time to have a seat at the table, we have to fight. This is one of those times we have to stand together to make sure that happens.”

Franco-Clausen was joined at the protest by California National Organization of Women Executive Director Kolieka Seigle and Betty Williams, who was recently appointed executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) California-Hawaii State Conference.

CDP Black Caucus’s Vice President Kendra Lewis and March On’s Executive Board member Jamilia Land also participated in the event on the behalf of Black women organizations. State Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), a member of the California Black Legislative Caucus (CLBC), also spoke at the Sacramento event.

Kendra Lewis speaks at the State Capitol Keep The Seat Press Conference Dec 15, 2020

“We’ve fought for over 100 years to get an African American woman elected to the United States Senate,” McCarty said. “That’s certainly a feat that represents 40 million Californians but also nearly 400 million people across our country. When Kamala Harris becomes Vice President on Jan. 20, 2021, there will not be one Black woman in the United States Senate. That would be a tragedy.”

Under California law, Gov. Newsom can either appoint a replacement to complete Harris’s term, which ends in 2023, or he can call a special election. Harris was elected to the position in 2017.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina), the Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives and highest-ranking African American in Congress, said the governor should appoint a Black woman to replace Harris in the U.S. Senate.

Clyburn said his top choices to fill the seat are Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) and Karen Bass (D-CA-37).

“I’ll mention two Black women in Lee and Bass,” Clyburn said. “Two outstanding women, either one of whom would make outstanding Congresspeople.”

U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts), an African American woman, also spoke out about the California senate seat. In a Twitter post, Pressley said not filling the position with a Black woman would indicate that the country is going backward.

“We absolutely cannot go backwards. With the election of @KamalaHarris to VP-elect, @CAgovernor must prioritize this leadership, perspective & representation in the vacated U.S. Senate seat & appoint a Black woman. @BLeeForCongress & @KarenBassTweets are seasoned policymakers,” Pressley tweeted on Dec. 15.

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty ( D-Sacramento) Betty Williams, ShayFranco-Clausen, Kendra Lewis, Jamilia Land and Kolieka Seigle
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