Black Lives Matter — Including in Political Fundraising, American History and Voting

The Civic Circle
4 min readAug 17, 2020


By Eliza Newlin Carney

Photo by Kim Wilson

Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate cements 2020 as the year of the Black woman, particularly when it comes to campaign fundraising. Biden raised $48 million within 48 hours of tapping Harris, the senator from California, as his №2 on the Democratic presidential ticket.

A record 267 women of color are running for Congress this year, half of them Black, and they’re riding a tidal wave of campaign cash. African American candidates across the board have been showered with campaign contributions since the May police killing of George Floyd, as I note recently in The Fulcrum, helping close a longtime political fundraising wealth gap that has thwarted candidates of color.

Black women candidates are doing especially well, and several have outraised their opponents, having been initially dismissed by the party establishment. These include Democratic challenger Pat Timmons-Goodson in central North Carolina, who raised more than twice incumbent Republican Rich Hudson in the second quarter, and Democrat Jackie Gordon, who has an 11-to-1 cash advantage over Republican state Rep. Andrew Garbarino in the race for an open House seat on Long Island.

A growing constellation of PACs, nonprofits and consulting firms that support African American candidates are also enjoying a huge cash influx, thanks to hundreds of millions flowing to groups advancing racial justice from philanthropists like George Soros and Mackenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Of course, barriers remain, and plenty of candidates of color complain that party higher-ups continue to give them short shrift. As Steve Phillips, the founder of Democracy in Color, told me: “The rhetoric is easy” compared with “doing the hard work to actually move the resources.” Read the whole story here.

AMERICAN HISTORY’S “EDUCATIONAL CRISIS”: How do we tell the whole American story? That question has gained new urgency as the nation grapples with the stark racial inequities in employment, health care, housing and education that both the pandemic and the latest wave of police brutality have brought to the fore. A new, diverse generation of students is complaining more vocally that they do not see themselves in outdated lesson plans that fail to tell the stories of people of color. As rising Yale freshman Caleb Dunson recently wrote in The Chicago Tribune, opportunities to learn about civics in schools are “inadequate, incomprehensive and inaccessible.”

In a recent post on Medium, two-dozen prominent history teachers from around the country called the state of history instruction “an educational crisis.” They blamed curriculum standards that lack empathy and humanity, textbooks that lack diversity, an ongoing time crunch, and reluctance to embrace tough conversations, among other problems. “Valuing and funding high-quality, diverse, and honest history education is a required pathway to working towards solutions to a problem that comprises the deepest fibers of our nation’s genetic code: racism and how racial history is taught in all of our schools,” the teachers wrote. Read their whole post here.

WHAT VOTING RIGHTS? There was little to celebrate on the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act this month, as election administration problems exacerbated by the pandemic threatened to hit voters of color disproportionately hard. Racial voter registration gaps, voter suppression tactics from purges to polling place closures, and the intensifying threat that Postal Service disruptions could hamper voting by mail have all raised alarms among civil and voting rights advocates. As Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, an ex-Louisiana state legislator and an associate professor at Duquesne University School of Law, told CNN: “The stakes are quite high. Voting equals power. And once you are able to elect the candidates of your choice, that means you have to be given a seat at the political table.” Read the whole story here.

BLACK LIVES MATTER ON CIVIC SATURDAY: A highlight of my summer was participating in the Civic Saturday Fellowship run by Seattle-based Citizen University. I met some dynamic civic leaders from around the country, and will now bring three Civic Saturdays to the Civic Circle community. The first one will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19th at 11 a.m., on the topic: Black Lives Matter: What will YOU Do? Like all Civic Saturdays, this one will feature, poetry, song, civic readings, and a civic “sermon” in what Citizen University calls a civic analog to a faith gathering. We will also break into “civic circles” to brainstorm our civic plans. To sign up or learn more, please click here or email

Eliza Newlin Carney is a journalist and founder of The Civic Circle.

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The Civic Circle

The Civic Circle is a nonprofit that uses music and the arts to inspire young students to understand and participate in democracy.