A dark horse emerges victorious in Alabama's election: the black voter

A supporter of Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Doug Jones reacts during an election-night watch party Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore. (AP Photo/John Bazemore; caption amended by RNS)

(RNS) — The question that pundits and pollsters tried to answer in the run-up to the Alabama special election was what white evangelical Christians would do for Roy Moore at the voting booth.

Since I write and teach about race, religion and politics, I have also gnawed at the Gordian knot of contemporary politics: Why did 81 percent of white evangelicals cast their votes in favor of Donald Trump, in defiance of the moral, cultural and familial values that James Dobson and Jerry Falwell and others touted for years as definitive of the Christian right?

For eight and a half years, I observed the ascendance of the Trump phenomenon from the perspective of a black Christian woman with a perch on the inside of the evangelical hurricane — as a professor at Wheaton College.

In 2013, I became the first black woman tenured in the history of the elite liberal arts institution founded by abolitionists just a stone’s throw from Chicago. In 2016, the university and I “parted ways” following my wearing of the hijab, a Muslim headscarf, in what I term “embodied solidarity” with Muslim women.

So as the precinct numbers rolled in Tuesday night, they did not surprise me. Sure, evangelical turnout was down, but much research shows that this can be the case where negative campaigning prevails. And off-year and special elections typically draw fewer voters. Predictably, 80 percent of white evangelical voters cast their ballots for Judge Roy Moore.

White evangelicals constitute the largest American religious grouping, so our curiosity about their voting behavior is warranted. But I also study another curiosity: black Christian voters. Black Americans maintain the highest rate of adherence to Christianity of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S., and the varieties of black Christian expression range from Pentecostal to Catholic. Invariably in conversations about religion and politics, when my students referred to Christians, they meant white evangelical Christians, not Catholics or Orthodox or Copts or black Protestants who are descendants of slaves.

But according to CNN, 96 percent of black voters backed Jones. Among black women, the figure was 98 percent.

So in a moment where the foundational fault lines of the American creed have been laid bare by the spilled blood and suffering of my black brothers and sisters at the hands of law enforcement, it turns out that black Christians, not white evangelicals, are the story.

The black voter, not Doug Jones, is the dark horse that emerged victorious in the Alabama senatorial election. Black Americans vote according to the needs of blacks as a whole, not according to their own economic interests. Political scientists call this "linked fate." But for linked fate to work, there must be solidarity with the oppressed.

For black Christians, the perspective of the oppressed that we emulate was exemplified by Jesus who said Christians must become like the least among us — the poor, the foreigner, the vulnerable — in the kingdom of earth in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. It's a perspective that says, in spite of your new gerrymandering and new poll taxes, our black bodies will not retreat from the ballot box. The KKK can ride on their white horses into Charlottesville and we will stand steadfast.

Black Christians were the dark horse. And they, like the black horse of the apocalypse, with the scales of justice in hand said, “Not on our watch, Roy Moore.” Justice says no to the princes who are thieves of the poor. The black horse of the apocalypse said hell no to rolling back health care for the poor and oppressed.

Ride your horse home, judge. Black justice has been rendered.

(Larycia Hawkins is a visiting faculty fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)


  1. Black voters sold themselves to a 500 percent supporter of Planned Parenthood, (essentially it’s the KKK without the bedsheets but with a lot more cash to spend), who got caught accepting offers for donations specifically targeted for the abortion of black babies. Maybe 60K minority sterilizations with NO consent of the women.

    Black voters also sold themselves to a 500 percent supporter of homosexual marriage and gender blurring, a corrosive mess at a time when the embattled black family, men, women, kids and teens), have never been under harsher problems.

    So whatever else we are, we are not victorious. We dumped a Moore, but got stuck with a Jones. We put on rusty, germ-laden shackles even as we celebrate our ballot-box liberation from the white oppressors. We’re just in trouble like everybody else, searching for daybreak.

  2. This is why Republican politicians support voter ID laws (i.e. voter suppression laws) so vigorously.

  3. Planned Parenthood “got caught accepting offers for donations specifically targeted for the abortion of black babies.”

    Gosh, that’s quite a serious matter and a serious charge.

    When and where did this happen?

    I’ll be grateful for sources to back up this serious claim. Thanks.

  4. No problem, William. Margaret Sanger (founder of PP), said that America had a problem with “Human Weeds.” And what do people purchase when they have a problem with weeds? Weed-Whackers, of course!!

    That brings us to a friendly PP office in Ohio:

    And don’t forget the PP’s of Idaho, New Mexico, and Oklahoma:

    So be sure to visit your nearest PP Hardware Store Today!

  5. Margaret Sanger is featured in a video accepting donations on behalf of Planned Parenthood targeted to aborting black babies, floyd? Who knew?

    I had thought she was part of the pre-video age.

    Here’s Snopes fact-checking that right-wing “weeds” quotation, by the way: https://www.snopes.com/margaret-sanger-weeds/.

    The folks to whose videos you link, Live Action, are a well-known extremist group who are specifcially well-known for using edited video footage to deceive people: see Southern Poverty Law Center on Live Action and Planned Parenthood — https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2015/08/31/group-attacking-planned-parenthood-linked-extremists.

    I’d appreciate any and all credible news sources to substantiate your serious charge that Planned Parenthood has been caught accepting donations targeted to the abortion of black babies.

    If you have no credible news sources to cite, then you’ve made a quite serious unsubstantiated claim about this group. Because of my commitment to Christian values, I take bearing false witness seriously and would find it exceptionally troubling to think that anyone claiming a Christian identity would engage in that practice.

  6. Oh no, Margaret Sanger was the lady who coined the phrase “human weeds.” (This was before YouTube was invented.)

    What you see in the YouTubes, are multi-state PP staff putting Margaret’s weed-whacking ideas into action. (Notice they ALL accepted the offer of whack-black-baby money, no refusals.)

    Can’t go back and erase either the PP voices or the racist donor’s voice. So you now have the actual recorded voices on actual PP phones = hard evidence. Way too late to hit “delete” now!!

  7. No she did not – Priests for Life claimed she did. A much maligned lady who believed that giving every woman control over their body was a key strategy to getting out of poverty.

    Try reading this for credible sources and who really w rote that quote https://www.trustblackwomen.org/2011-05-10-03-28-12/publications-a-articles/african-americans-and-abortion-articles/26-margaret-sanger-and-the-african-american-community- or this https://sangerpapers.wordpress.com/category/african-american/

  8. Oh, but I’m afraid she really did coin and use that “human weeds” phrase. Inescapable (and unrefuted).

    “We must make this country into a garden of children instead of a disorderly back lot overrun with human weeds.”
    — Radio WFAB Syracuse, 1924-02-29, transcripted in “The Meaning of Radio Birth Control”, April 1924, p. 111, Wikiquotes.

    She never wore a hood, but she was KKK Eugenics Inc. (and in fact accepted an invitation to give a speech to them!) She knew that the best way to lynch a black man was to get her slimy unwashed paws on his mama. Possibly 60K sterilizations without consent. NYC and Baltimore, black abortion rates exceeded black birth rates. Nazi machine efficiency.

  9. In other words, you cannot locate a Snopes link that addresses my most recent post concerning Mrs. Margaret KKK Sanger, and therefore you find yourself unable to refute the information given.

    A frustrating development, is it not? 🙂

  10. When voting, one decides who is the lesser evil. A candidate is a bundle of stances and issues. For most Americans, any of the current crop of Republicans meets the definition of greater evil when considering the long range of economic growth, raising people out of stagnate wages, improved education opportunities, a cleaner environment, better international relations and affordable improved health care. It is easy to understand why Black people can see this beyond the hype by Fox so called news, those who dream of the rise of the Old Confederacy and those who actually think they will be rich someday and need to support the status quo .

    Doug Jones helped to solve a case of terrorism that dated back to 1963. He deserved the Black vote just for that alone.

    Two really sad things is how tight the race was and that 60% of eligible voters in Alabama did not even think it was worth their effort to vote.

  11. As noted in the Time article, Margaret Sanger was praised by Martin Luther King. She was also supported by black leaders such as Mary McLeod Bethune, W. E. B. DuBois, and Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. She was concerned about the high rate of both infant and maternal mortality in the South and thought that ensuring black women in the South needed information about birth control – just like all other women would be helpful in terms of both health and reducing poverty.. You might not like her analogy but I certainly have heard the phrase breeding like rabbits used as well in a pejorative term around families with a large number of children. She believed women should be able to choose when they became pregnant and how many children they wanted. She also saw making these choices as important to coming out of poverty and stable family lives. https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sanger/articles/bc_or_race_control.php

    She has been contentious given her alliance with eugencis.The US was the first country in the world to enact compulsory sterilization so it is not really surprising that this was an influence on her thinking. And certainly medicine/researchers have been atrocious at using black persons as guinea pigs for involuntary treatment of all types.

    But I think you are putting the blame on the wrong person for black women having higher rates of abortion. A better question would be what is needed for black women to use other methods of contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Easiest way of dealing with a problem is to blame someone else. Even better if she has been dead over 50 years.

  12. voting along racial divides, rather than what is true according to G-D and/or THEIR Son. nor voting as americans, but voting for white, black, brown, yellow, or red divisions.

    verifying that christian voters, do not give a damn about being true to G-D. it’s voting for, gimme gimme gimme. ignoring the fact, that all physical judgement is according to how true to G-D And THEIR Son you really are.

    can’t even accept the fact, that when jews were untrue to G-D they were also persecuted. no different than if you, are untrue to THEM.

    there, are only three possibilities. the one side, is lying and the other side isn’t. the other side is lying and the one isn’t. or both sides, are lying is more typical. i, do not believe any election has been about who is true to ELOHEEM and THEIR Son and who isn’t. typically it is our choice of demon, vs their choice of demon.

    christian, jews, muslims, all claiming to be true to some other g-d. with nothing but a, cruel and corrupt yeetzer joke. blaming others, for your inappropriate demises resulting from your own white, black, brown, yellow, red racist corruption untrue to G-D. when the physical judgement, of all on earth is not based on race, or color.

    it is no wonder, there are mainly almost all demons running for public office.

    there are still blacks, and jews, blaming others instead of themselves for ELOHEEM enslaving and/or persecuting them for their betrayal of G-D and THEIR Son. when none of you, have been able to convince me you love G-D and THEIR Son with your love of self…

  13. you, can also call that suppression of illegal voter laws. unless you support illegal voting, what are you afraid of; honesty!

  14. as a non-affiliated not politically correct Noachide, i see the democrat party as the most fascist evil and wicked. i, do not think either political party or political media is objective enough to evaluate themselves let alone anyone else.

    i, do not believe doug jones is on The Side of G-D and THEIR Son. no matter how iffy roy moore, was or is. he, did support some G-Dly principals. and the devil, is always the more smooth taking con artist.

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