For the first time in the history of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), three African American women were named to top leadership positions. Rev. Leah D. Daughtry, Donna Brazile, and the Honorable Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio served as leaders at the 2016 Democratic National Convention held last week at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.
The Rev. Leah D. Daughtry, 52, served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the DNC for the second time. Daughtry previously managed the 2008 Denver convention when President Barack Obama was nominated to lead the presidential ticket. In 1984, as a senior at Dartmouth College, Daughtry spearheaded the presidential campaign in New Hampshire for Democratic hopeful, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. “I am always conscious that I am a Black woman doing this,” Daughtry said. Daughtry, the creator of Faith in Action, the Democratic Party’s outreach to communities of faith and the current Pastor of House of the Lord Church in Washington, DC, promised “the most diverse and the most forward-looking convention that we’ve had in recent history.” And it was.
Donna Brazile, 56, was appointed the interim chair of the DNC, after former Chair and Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resigned amid an email scandal that led many to believe that there were coordinated efforts among DNC staffers to favor Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over rival Bernie Sanders.
Brazile, a native of Louisiana and a stalwart of the DNC said, “As a child, I lived through and survived the segregated South. I sat at the back of the bus at a time when America wasn’t yet as great as it could be. As a grown woman, I saw the first Black President reach down a hand and touch the face of a child like I once was, lifting his eyes toward a better future. But I have never, ever, in all my years seen a leader so committed to delivering that better future to America’s children as Hillary Clinton,” Brazile said.
A veteran of a number of presidential campaigns, Brazile was the first African American to direct a major presidential campaign, serving as the manager for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential bid. As the incoming chair of the DNC, Brazile said, “I promise you, my friends, I commit to all Americans that we have a party that you can be proud of. We will elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”
Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton named U. S. Representative Marcia L. Fudge as the permanent Chair of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Congresswoman Fudge, a four-term representative of the Eleventh Congressional District of Ohio immediately took command of the DNC stage. Amid boo’s from supporters of Bernie Sanders when Clinton’s name was mentioned, Fudge told the assembled, “There are many of you in this room that do not know me. Let me say to you, I intend to be fair. I want to hear the varying opinions here,” Fudge said. “I’m going to be respectful of you and I want you to be respectful of me,” Fudge continued. “We are all Democrats and we need to act like it.”
Representative Fudge entered Congress in 2008, succeeding Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, who died suddenly before the start of the 2008 Denver convention. Fudge worked as Tubbs’ Chief of Staff and previously served as Mayor of Warrensville Height for eight years before coming to Congress. Fudge is the immediate past Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. She stepped down in 2014. Representative G. K. Butterfield, D-NC and the current Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus said, “I am not surprised that Fudge was tapped to chair the convention. She’s very methodical in the way she thinks. She’s very fair and one of the most capable members for this type of assignment.” As Congresswoman Fudge reflected on the convention and her role as permanent chair, she said, “I’ve never been one to try and find a niche for myself. I’ve always tried to wait and see what comes. It really was a singular honor, and I am very supportive of Hillary Clinton. But more importantly, I hope that I did my community proud and I did my state proud.”